5 Key Practices to Include In Your Meditation Routine
As we move from summer into fall, our lives are, for better or worse, busier than ever. The kids are back in school, work is ramping up for the final push of the year, and the holidays are just around the corner. With so much going on, it is easy to become overwhelmed and stressed. When this happens, consider using meditation as a potential therapeutic solution.
Medical studies have shown that regular meditative practices help alleviate symptoms from a variety of medical conditions such asanxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma,headaches, chronic pain, and insomnia.
Meditation also improves nervous system regulation in times of high stress and helps us develop a stronger mind-body connection, thus enhancing relationships with both ourselves and others.
Here are five global practices you can incorporate into your meditation routine today to improve the overall quality of your experience:
1. Find a Quiet Place
While those who are highly experienced in meditation may be able to focus their attention in any setting, I recommend finding a quiet place free from daily distractions to practice. A major aspect of meditation is the ability to connect with oneself and momentarily escape the pressures of the world. As such, trying to meditate with distractions such as city noise, television, and cellphones can inhibit your ability to achieve these results. Believe me when I say that trying to meditate when a four-year-old is running around singing at the top of her lungs simply does not work! Instead, carve out a space and time each day where you can have the necessary peace and quiet, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
2. Get Comfy
Meditation is all about finding a sense of peace and comfort, and yet, you would be surprised at how many people try to meditate in uncomfortable positions out of habit. For optimal effect, I recommend accessing a position and posture where you feel the most relaxed. For some, this may be lying in bed or sitting in a comfy chair while for others, it may be walking slowly and mindfully. In the end, there is no right or wrong here as long as you are able to fully relax.
3. Focus Focus Focus
No matter what meditative discipline you choose to practice, it is important to focus throughout the session. Rather than let your mind wander to the many things you need to do during the day, focus your attention on either your breath, an object, a mantra, or a strand of meditation beads like a rosary. This act of focusing your attention, which is called mindfulness, will do wonders for stress reduction and overall relaxation during your meditative sessions.
4. Take a Deep Breath
During meditation, relaxed breathing is key. This technique involves deep, slow, even-paced breathing that focuses on using the diaphragm to expand the lungs. This practice will not only slow your heart rate but will improve your breathing efficiency by increasing oxygen intake. Further, this practice naturally reduces use of your shoulder, neck, and upper chest muscles, thus decreasing built-up tension in the body.
5. Open Your Mind
It is important to remember that meditation involves staying in the moment and being kind to yourself. With this in mind, try to enter each of your meditative sessions with an open and welcoming attitude to whatever comes your way. Practice simply observing your thoughts as they pass in and out of your mind without any sense of judgment of right or wrong. While this may initially feel counterintuitive, you will be amazed how relaxing and liberating it is to simply let go.