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Meditation

Meditation has become my refuge. So, I decided to share my journey and how it has enriched my sense of self.

My Journey to Peace

In our fast-paced world, finding time in 24 hours to do everything I need and enjoy is a challenge. Especially because I’m starting a new business besides having 2 kids, a husband, a dog, and a house to take care of. That’s why I never thought I’d have time to meditate. However, after listening to so many different renowned MDs and health practitioners talk about the benefits of meditation, I decided to give it a try. The practice has since become my refuge and I cannot stop. So, I decided to share my journey and how it has enriched my sense of self.

Stress Reduction

Meditation is well known for its stress-busting qualities. By sitting still, focusing on breathing, and quieting the mind we can shift our autonomic nervous system to a “rest & digest” response mode and therefore regulate stress. This leads to reduced cortisol levels, the body’s primary stress hormone, promoting a calmer and more peaceful state of mind. It was not easy to quiet my mind at first but, as I sat there day after day, it got easier. The simple act of being fully present allowed me to face challenges with a newfound sense of calm.

Mental Health

I’ve always been a pretty positive and assertive person but, I cannot deny I have my down days every once in a while. Meditation became a lifeline, offering solace and perspective. It created space for self-compassion and self-acceptance, allowing me to manage down moments more effectively. Regular meditation can have such a transformative impact on mental health that psychiatrists recommend it as part of treatment for conditions like anxiety, depression, and ADHD. 

Enhanced Focus

I’m known as a person who has outstanding energy and gets a lot done but, sometimes it amazes me how more productive I am lately. I cannot isolate the meditation’s impact, but I can tell for sure that having a calm morning routine focused on connecting with myself has strengthened my focus, making me more productive than I have ever been. Meditation is like a workout for the brain. It strengthens the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with attention and decision-making.

Better Emotional Regulation

As meditation helps us become more in tune with our emotions and develop healthier ways to respond to them, it cultivates emotional intelligence. It can also lead to improved empathy and therefore better relationships. It’s easier for me now to react to my teenager’s ups and downs with wisdom and grace. Meditation has strengthened my emotional resilience.

Physical Health Benefits

The mind-body connection plays an important role in stress regulation. The calm and balanced state we can achieve through meditation is a wonderful way to allow that connection. The effects on the physical body are lower blood pressure, improved sleep, and boosted immune function. Meditation can even be used for pain management of chronic conditions. The one thing I can attest to is that I’ve been sleeping better than ever before.

Mindfulness and Presence

Mindfulness is a key component of meditation. It means being fully present in every moment. It opens our eyes to the beauty of life’s simple things. With this enhanced sense of gratitude, we can better savor the joys and face challenges with ease.

Meditation has been an amazing journey for me, so I highly recommend it.

Five Tips to Help You Start

1. Begin with Short Sessions:

You can start with as short as 2-minute sessions. I started with 5 minutes a year ago and now I go over 20 minutes. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually extend the duration. Consistency matters more when you’re starting. As you go longer you can consider incorporating malas into your practice.

Also known as beads for prayer or meditation, malas allow you to take a more active approach to your practice by engaging in the physical act of feeling each bead as you repeat your mantra. This can help you remain focused instead of getting lost in your thoughts.

2. Find a Quiet Space:

My sanctuary is my back porch. It’s quiet and fresh in the mornings and it’s where I can also enjoy the early lights of the rising. Find your quiet, comfortable space which could be a corner of a room, a garden, or any place where you won’t be easily disturbed. 

3. Select a Comfortable Posture:

I sit cross-legged but you can pick whatever posture is comfortable for you. You can even sit on a chair or lie down. The key is to maintain an upright and relaxed posture.

4. Focus on Breathing:

Once you are comfortably sited close your eyes and focus on diaphragmatic or belly breathing. Pay attention to the natural rhythm of your belly – inhale belly raises, exhale belly drops. As thoughts arise (which they will), gently guide your focus back to your breath without self-criticism. Trust that it gets easier with time.

5. Use Mantras:

I come to realize that standard prayers are nothing other than long mantras. Their goal is to keep the mind from wandering. I’ve heard a phrase from John Robbins that I liked very much so, I chose it to be my mantra – “Less Pain, More Love”. I say Less Pain as I inhale and More Love as I exhale. It’s like I’m taking in less pain and letting out more love.

As my next step, I’m considering guided meditation. Cathy Heller has this Meditation membership where she sends 4 different meditations a month. These can provide structure and guidance and maybe level up my practice. 

Keep in mind that meditation is not a place of self-judgment. It’s rather an exercise of self-acceptance. Just show up to your practice and enjoy spending time with yourself. Stay open to the experience and you will get what you need. I always find peace.

Remember: Good is what makes you feel well!

Anna.

Read more about other mindfulness practices at 10 Ways to Take Care of Health without Spending Money.

Photo credits to my dear and talented friend Caroline Kohls.

Anna Resende

Anna Resende

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
Certified by IIN - Institute for Integrative Nutrition

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In this book, you’ll find all the steps you can take to feel great. Besides all the foundational principles of multidimensional health, it has a sample of a productive daily routine and a two-day menu with 10 healthy recipes for you to try.

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