Meditation offers so many benefits for our physical and spiritual wellbeing. It is a healthy aging solution for balancing your inner-self with your outer-self.
There are days when - given your best efforts - Life takes the wheel and runs your plans right into a bunker. As quick as a wink, your day goes sideways.
When faced with unexpected situations, your body’s natural tendency is to trigger the fight or flight response - also known as the “stress response”. This is not good for you.
Stress causes your blood pressure to rise… heart rate increases… breathing quickens… and muscles tighten. Over time, this cycle takes a toll on your body and premature aging happens.
This doesn't have to be your story. When life happens, lean into meditation to calm the waters and soothe the soul.
Where to start…
If you’re a newbie or you’re returning to meditation because it’s a positive aging routine you want to embrace - keep it simple and start with a basic approach.
There are many good options for the beginner - We're going to walk through a popular one called Mindfulness. It’s a powerful form of meditation often used in moments of stress, anxiety, negative emotions, or overheating caused by hot tempers.
By using focused-breathing techniques, this method keeps your attention in the present moment. What happened a few minutes ago… What’s about to happen in the next moment… all those thoughts are set free without judgment.
A few minutes a day and a quiet spot are all you need to make Mindfulness your new daily routine.
● Start with a comfortable position. If you are sitting in a chair or on the floor, keep your back straight but not rigid. Allow your arms, hands, legs and feet to rest naturally.
● Relax your body. Take notice of your body and how you are positioned. How it feels to be sitting in the chair. Relax any parts of your body that are rigid, tense, or tight.
● Focus on your breathing. As you get settled, focus on your breathing. Don’t alter your breathing patterns. This exercise works best when you keep it natural for you.
One breath at a time, bring your focus to your breathing. As you inhale and exhale - Notice the flow of air as it travels through your body and notice how your body reacts to it.
Focus on each breath… as you inhale the breath flows through the nostrils… through the body to your lungs… and your stomach expands.
As you exhale, focus on the breath as it leaves your lungs… flows through your body and exits through your mouth.
Keep your focus light but controlled.
Have awareness that you are in the present moment and you are focused on your breathing.
● Control the wandering mind. Your mind may start to wander and bring other thoughts into view. This is very natural. It takes time and practice to learn how to maintain focus. Just simply notice that it happened. Without judgement, send those wandering thoughts away and move your attention back to breathing.
● Build on success. Start with a goal of 2 minutes of controlled breathing without a wandering mind. As you master small pockets of time, add a minute or a few to the routine. There is no exact number of minutes this exercise takes. The goal is to achieve relaxation. Be sure to celebrate your wins. You’ve earned them!
1. Start simple. For meditation to work for you, find a routine that meets you where you are today. Over time, you’ll build the discipline to be where you want to be. Just getting started is a big accomplishment!
2. Give it blocked time in your routine. When it’s part of the daily schedule, it’s hard to ignore or excuse away. Also, build in a fun reward activity that follows. Make a commitment to yourself that you’ll only partake in the reward activity if you’ve done the meditation activity!
3. Dial-up a friend. Life is so much better when you run it with a friend. In these days of “lock-down”, video chats seem normal. If you can’t meet in person, grab your phone or tablet and dial a friend. Hang in with your bestie… What a great way to start the day!
If you enjoy meditation, please share your stories about what works for you. We’d love to read them.
Beyond stress management, meditation has many other positive benefits:
● Have greater self-awareness!
● Enhance focus for the here and now!
● Elevate levels of imagination and creativity!
● Increase capacity for patience and tolerance!
● Reduce occurrence for negative emotions!
Cheers to Positive Aging!
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