“Deep breath in, deep breath out, deep breath in, deep breath out…”
How often I heard these words and simply brushed them aside, thinking I don’t have time for that. Then I turned 30 (yes, I know that is young, but it’s a whole new decade), my position at work changed, my kid’s scheduled changed and my workout schedule changed (it’s pretty much out the door) I realized the world around me is changing and that I need to reenergize, focus and take a few moments for me. As I laid in bed one morning enjoying the quietness around me and those few moments to myself my mind reflected back on these words “deep breath in, deep breath out, deep breath in, deep breath out” I thought how calming, needed and refreshing to just take a few breathes and think about nothing. The next day I found myself on Amazon buying Buddhist prayer beads, looking up a mantra that fit me and dusting off an apple-cinnamon scented candle from Christmas. Thanks to Amazon prime I had my prayer beads in two days. I lit the candle, grabbed the prayer beads, took a few deep breaths, focused on the candle flame and started to repeat my selected mantra in my head. Truth be told I am new to mediating so my first session didn’t last too long but even in those seven to ten minutes of quiet mindfulness I felt more relaxed, centered and invigorated.
While my mediation sessions are intended to just have some time to myself and rebalance, studies have proven that it provides relief from stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, increases production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA (yes please!), increases self awareness, makes you grounded and calmer and increases your spiritual connection. More recently through neurological findings meditation has been shown to literally rewire brain circuits that boost both mind and body health (forbes.com). A Harvard study showed that eliciting the body’s relaxation response could even affect our genes – in just minutes. They found that meditating (even just once) could dampen the genes involved in the inflammatory response, and promote those genes associated with DNA stability. Researchers have found denser gray matter in brain areas related to memory and emotional processing in expert meditators. Additionally, having a regular practice is associated with benefits to social aspects of our health, like boosting our mindfulness, empathy and resilience. It can also help us regulate our thoughts so that we’re not so quick to judge, diminishing the potentially detrimental effects of stereotypes (forbes.com).
No two mediation styles are the same, you may choose to focus on a mantra or not, you may choose to use a candle or not, you may even choose to mediate outside. Whatever you choose I am sure you will benefit from your experience. For a beginners guide to meditation check out this article.
Forbes article can be found by clicking here.