Friday, February 21, 2014

To Meditate or Not to Meditate

Some people are frightened of “meditation,” others are too busy to investigate, and still others tried something that did not work for their brains and "threw the baby out with the bath water,” as the old metaphor puts it. Studies have shown any number of benefits that can accrue to your brain, heart, and body from meditating: improved memory, stress relief, slower heartbeat, and so on. In fact, almost any activity can lead to a meditative experience if you are aware in the moment and engage your senses. The good news? You can choose to meditate by developing a style that works for you. The key is to slow down and become aware of what is happening in the present moment. It’s so easy to start thinking about all the things you need to do in the future, or all the things you crammed into yesterday, or whether you turned off the iron or the dryer or turned on the dishwasher or the coffee maker. Your mind will want to do that (out of habit) and will start to drift. Bring your thoughts back to the present moment and calm your nervous system. If it’s raining, you might close your eyes and concentrate on the sound of rain against the window pane or watch them strike the glass if you're visual. If you like specific odors, you might light a fragrant candle and concentrate on the scent. If you are tuned into sound, you might listen to yourself breathing in and out and in and out. You might prefer creating a calming picture or scene in your mind's eye and focus on that. Start with just five calming minutes. Practice again tomorrow, and so on. Each brain is different and each brain can meditate.

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