Feeling stressed? Close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths. Do you feel any different after trying that? If you already practice meditation you might be more likely to say yes. Like anything else, training our nervous system to tend towards calm takes practice. And that practice is meditation. And it only takes 12 minutes a day to reap the benefits. Does that sound appealing? Would better focus, enhanced memory, improved sleep, and healthier digestion convince you?
If you are still a bit weary let’s talk benefits as far as nutrition and exercise. The more we practice meditation the better we get at consciously taking action as opposed to reacting to events in our lives. Instead of automatically reaching for a cookie when we feel stressed, we are able to pause, assess the situation, and make a choice that truly supports our body. The same goes for exercise. Instead of mindlessly slogging through our fitness routine we are more likely to take notice of sensation and less likely to become injured.
The mindfulness community labels this as the “Sacred Pause”. Pausing once may not seem like a big deal but over the long run these pauses add up. Meditation is a great way to effectively rewire the brain, and eventually it becomes second nature to pause, assess, and make a choice instead of acting on old habits. We can shift from being jerked around by compulsions to being in the driver’s seat.
If you are interested but don’t know where to begin here are some ideas to get started:
-Try a guided meditation: You can find plenty of guided mediations by simply googling “guided meditation”. You may have to test drive a few to find one you like. If you decide guided meditation isn’t for you simply set a timer for 12 minutes, close your eyes, and listen to your breath.
-Forget about “clearing your mind”: Clearing your mind is a myth. As long as we are conscious, we are thinking. That’s just how the brain works. The goal of meditation is to begin to notice our thoughts.
-Meditate first thing in the morning: Meditating anytime is great, but meditating in the morning sets us up to make better choices throughout the day. Set your alarm 12 minutes earlier and keep some headphones and your device beside your bed (if you are doing a guided meditation). Meditate in bed and set yourself up for success before your feet even hit the floor.
-Value consistency over quantity: If you can meditate for 12 minutes great, if not do whatever you can do. Being consistent seems to have more of an impact than the length of any one session.
Want to learn more about the connection between health and mindfulness? Click below: