Meditation: what’s it all about?

imagesKNJ25JEZ

I have read a ton of articles over the past year from various sources touting the amazing benefits of meditation.  OK so it’s supposed to be good for you and there are some studies which support its benefits to both body and mind.  But what exactly is meditation?  It seems there are several forms.  How exactly is it good for me?  And who has time to sit and do nothing?  In our rushed and stressed out society it could seem counter intuitive to many.  Maybe even a waste of time!  This is to those of us that do have a hard time sitting still and turning off our mind.  It is very hard for me.  However because I keep reading about the abundant benefits I do believe that it is in my best interest to slow down and take a look at what it is all about and try to incorporate it into my life in 2015.  New year’s resolution?  Perhaps yes – can’t hurt me to at  least try it right?

Meditation is good for your mind; it changes your brain’s structure!

A study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) shows measurable changes in participants’ grey matter.  The regions demonstrating change are associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.  Grey matter density had actually increased.  I think I would love to be able to feel less stress just through building up some grey matter – and all I have to do is sit quietly!  Does it still sound like a waste of time endeavor?  Not so much.  I would rather not rely on prescription drugs to cope with daily overwhelm.

How do we get started?

  • Sit comfortably either cross-legged on the floor.  If that is uncomfortable, sit in a chair.
  • Sit up straight and close your eyes.
  • To maintain your neutral tall spine by inhaling and rolling your shoulders up to your ears.  As you exhale roll your shoulders back and down.  Repeat this if you feel yourself starting to slouch.
  • Breath simply through your nose; just breathing in and out.  Focus on the space between your nostrils and your lips.  Observe the sensation as your breath flows over this spot.
  • As your mind wonders bring it back to this space.  Be easy on yourself throughout the process.  Some days it will seem easier than others.
  • Observe any thoughts that come and go but don’t really judge them.  Just focus back on your breath.
  • Start with sessions of 5 minutes.  If you feel like going longer, go with it.
  • Likewise if you’re not feeling it one day listen to your intuition.  If you feel the need to move slightly, you can!
  • See this article for further information
  • Go easy on yourself; it is amazingly difficult to train your mind like this.  Especially when you’ve had a rough day!
  • Do what feels good!

To your health

Headaches: some yoga solutions

Headaches often accompany stress.  Releasing some tension from your body through some simple yoga poses may help relieve some of your pain.  Here are some very simple, beginner friendly poses which you can try. Try them for just a couple of minutes at the end of your work day 3 times a week. They will help get you moving a little, make you focus on something that is good for your body, and help you to wind down.

Cat Pose

Begin simply with your hands and knees on the floor in a tabletop position.  Exhale and round your spine up.  Inhale and return to the neutral tabletop.  Do this about 5 to 8 times using your breath to lead your movement.  How is this helping you?  This helps to elongate your spine and separate your disks which can get compressed when you sit for long periods of time.  Compression can affect the nerves which may be giving you headaches.

Eagle arms

slide_307673_2679136_free
Eagle Arms

This is especially good for relieving tension headaches.  You can do this either standing or sitting cross legged.  This really releases shoulder tension.  Hold the pose for 5 to 8 breaths with left arm under right and then switch to right arm under left.

Child’s Pose

images4IY14NLY
Child’s Pose

This is the fundamental resting pose of yoga.  As you drop your shoulders and release tension your breath is directed towards your back.  This helps push oxygen up to your neck and shoulders.

Legs up the Wall Pose

So easy, yet so powerful.  Lie down on the floor near a wall and rest your legs up the wall.  This allows the pooled blood in your legs to circulate easily helping reduce fatigue and anxiety.  Stay here for as long as you like breathing deeply and fully.

Corpse Pose

This is usually the final pose of yoga practice.  This is the time to slow down your breathing, quiet your mind, and relax your whole body.

Corpse Pose
Corpse Pose

 

All these poses, as well as a few more, can be viewed  in this article from The Huffington Post: 10 of the Best Yoga Poses for Headaches.

To your health