Natural Medicine Overland Park, KS
Meditation and mindfulness, you’ve heard the terms before, but what does it really mean and does it really help? Meditation is a simple and easy practice that provides inner peace and calmness. It can be performed anywhere and is an inexpensive way to achieve relaxation during even the most stressful times. Meditation is both a mind and body practice that focuses on the interactions between the body, brain, mind, and behavior. Mindfulness is based on meditation however an additional emphasis is placed on acceptance, and creating a nonjudgmental attitude. Mindfulness focuses on increasing awareness of the present and putting aside mental distractions. When practiced, these two philosophies can enhance your overall health and create a balanced life.
Everyday ways to practice meditation and mindfulness
There are many different ways and techniques that mindful meditation can be practiced. However the five main elements of meditation are focused attention, relaxed breathing, a quiet setting, a comfortable position, and an open attitude. The following are a few ways that you can incorporate meditation and mindfulness throughout your day.
Start your day off with a mantra – Create your own mantra or find one that relaxes you. Repeat mantra as you take deep breaths.
Check your breath throughout the day – Simply close your eyes and focus on the areas of your body that feel most stressed. Slow your breath, focus only on your inhale and exhale. Once your breath is smooth and slow, take a big inhale and imagine pushing that new breath towards the tense areas of your body. As you exhale, release all of the tension. Repeat this cycle for 10-15 minutes.
Scan your body – Find a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on breathing deeply and slowly. Focus your attention on different parts of your body one at a time. Start with your feet. Become aware of your body’s sensations such as pain, warmth, tension, heaviness, and relaxation. As you breathe, continue to slowly move your attention up your body until you reach your head. Notice how each section of your body feels at that moment. A total body scan should take around 10-15 minutes.
Relax with self-guided meditation –There are a number of free podcasts and guided meditations that can be downloaded to your smart device for easy access.
- Websites: The mindfulness solution (http://www.mindfulness-solution.com/DownloadMeditations.html), UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/body.cfm?id=22&iirf_redirect=1), Chopra Center (https://chopra.com/articles/guided-meditations)
- Phone apps such as: Headspace (headspace.com) and Meditation Oasis (https://www.meditationoasis.com/podcast)
- Meditation teachers such as Tara Brach (https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/)
Effectiveness of meditation
Meditation and mindfulness have proven to be very beneficial for conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. In a recent study (https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/06/mindfulness-meditation-and-relaxation-response-affect-brain-differently/), individuals who participated in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program showed decreased stress and increased mindfulness. These individuals also showed improvements in self-compassion, and reflection. Interestingly, when a body scan was performed a pattern of unique brain activity was found showing a strengthened connection between areas of the brain associated with awareness, perception, and control.
Decreased stress, and enhanced self-awareness are amazing benefits, however meditation and mindfulness have also shown to be effective for various other health conditions. While more studies need to be done, researchers have found evidence that meditation may reduce blood pressure, improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and ease ulcerative colitis flare-ups. For a lot of these conditions, medication may be provided, however they are not always effective. Adding meditation and mindfulness practices with other treatments, may be the tool you need to create a more balanced life.
If you are tired of taking medication and want a whole body approach to healing that is specific to you, consider consulting with a doctor of natural medicine Overland Park KS at LifeWorks Integrative Health, who can help assess your needs.