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During this trying time on us all it is essential that we keep as fit and healthy as possible and one way of achieving this is by learning how to meditate.
Here’s 20+ reasons why you should learn to meditate.
It makes you feel happier. It improved your memory. It makes you feel more grateful. It reduces stress. It improved sleep. It improves concentration. It encourages compassion. It helps with decision making. It encourages mindfulness. It helps fight addictions. It delays onset of Alzheimer’s. It encourages a healthy lifestyle. It reduces back pain. It reduces loneliness. It encourages weight loss. It slows down the ageing process. It’s FREE. It involves no physical exertion. It heals your soul. It improved your cardiovascular health. It helps process emotions. It’s linked to a more creative mind.
Some tips on learning and practicing meditation are – Practice daily, decide a time you can practice without interference everyday. Start small, say just two minutes. Get comfortable, choose your space and sit in a comfortable position. Focus on your breathing and realise that your mind will have a lot of thoughts going through it at the moment. Your thoughts will wander, this is normal.
Four great FREE apps you can download to start your journey are – HEADSPACE– one of the most popular apps characterised by cute animations to help people start their meditation journey. Some meditations can be as short as 1-3 minutes so a great app for beginners. CALM– a great sleep and relaxation app with great pictures rather than words to help you stay with the app for longer. INSIGHT TIMER – tons of free guided meditation and mindfulness. MINDFULNESS– this app was created by two yoga and mindfulness professionals. You can start your meditation practice with only 5 mins per day, and track your progress. It’s indicated for beginners, kids and even people that have been meditating for a long time. A great all rounder app.
You can find lots of infographics on meditation from Pinterest and I have written a few blog posts on the subject –
I enjoyed Kayla’s book very much. She writes in great details about feeling tired from lack of sleep as she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome when she was young. She tried everything in the book to help her sleep and then while working at an environmental health clinic, the Doctor she was working with suggested she should try a mindfulness course. The course included mindfulness and yoga and after a few months Kayla was able to sleep much better.
Even with a busy lifestyle she found yoga helped her to sleep well and decided to write this book in a step by step format so that what Kayla learnt from studying yoga, meditation and psychology could help others along the way.
There is a full chapter in all you need to know about sleep, good sleep, bad sleep, REM sleep and your heart rate. “The goal of yoga or meditation” she says, “isn’t to stay relaxed all the time, but to be able to switch between the systems if needed.”
Yoga and how it works is described well and how it can work to help you sleep. Creating a healthy sleep environment is discussed well as Kayla has travelled far and wide and understands how jet lag affects your sleep and writes about mental relaxation and darkness in your bedroom. Plus diet and creating a routine which is essential for a good nights sleep.
Kayla talks about meditation for better sleep. Mindfulness is explained very well and the goal setting is very achievable. She writes further on breathing techniques for a better sleep which is something my local pain team want to teach me.
There is a great chapter on yoga positions shown in detail with pictures to help you to try different positions to help you sleep.They are simple to do as I could manage a number of them but do check with your Doctor first before you try them out.
The final part of the book is all about building a lifestyle for a better sleep which is explained fully. I really liked this book and have it next to my bed to refer to if I’m struggling with my sleep. The book is available from Amazon.
While waiting to go into the Doctors I sat reading a Good Housekeeping Health Living magazine. It had a brilliant article on finding the right type of meditation to suit your mood. These are some of the tips to help you find the techniques that work best for you.
If you need flexibility then look at the apps that are available for help with all kinds of needs from performance to sleep. They recommend Headspace or Happier and Calm apps.
Headspace also runs bite-size guided meditations for anyone who is busy (who isn’t?) All you do is sign up for a free trial at Headspace or you could find meditation courses online but they state they can be expensive from
If you are having trouble sleeping (that’s me) then they say there is evidence that mindfulness works. The technique that has the most mental health studies supporting it is mindfulness-based ‘Cognitive Therapy‘, and there is an abundance of details online.
If you prefer to be taught personally then they recommend Vedic and Transcendental Meditation which are courses you can start with a one-to-one lesson when you’re given your mantra. Find Vedic and Transcendental Meditation from this website.
If your feeling angry or lonely then they suggest you try loving-kindness meditation, where you repeat a positive mantra. Visit Ten Percent Happier for details on this.
Its been written about many times but now they say we should all benefit from meditation but its something that you need to keep practising to see the benefits.
A basic meditation which you could try for 10 minutes each day is to start by finding a quiet space and sit comfortably with your hands on your lap, keeping your back straight and neck relaxed.
Now breathe deeply and gaze into the middle distance and take nice deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth and on the last exhalation, close your eyes,
Notice your posture, the weight of your arms and hands, the sensation of your body touching the chair, your feet on the ground and what you might smell, hear or taste.
Now turn your mind inwards to scan your body from head to toe, observing any tension or discomfort then scan again making a note of the parts of your body that feel the most relaxed.
Notice any thoughts that arise without trying to alter them.
Now observe the rising and falling of your breathing in your body and where the sensations occur. Focus on the quality of each breath, deep or shallow, long or short, fast or slow.
Count 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 on the next inhalation and carry on in this pattern until you get to 10. Repeat this five or six times and if any thoughts appear to guide your attention back to your breathing.
Spend 20 to 30 seconds just sitting then slowly become aware of everything and slowly open your eyes.
Most people think of meditation as something that you sit and do quietly, but studies have found that music, walking and even laptop tools can help you to meditate. There are over 100 benefits to meditation from lowering your heart rate to building your self-confidence.
You can listen to it on your way to work, at home or wherever your going. Your normal heart at rest should be around 75 beats a minute and music pulsing at around 60 beats per minute can help to bring on an alpha state, which is the same relaxed state that is created by normal meditation.
To get the most benefit you should do it regularly but start slowly and there are a number of inspirational tools that you can buy to help you to meditate. A CD ‘Dr Andrew Weil Presents Vibrational Sound Healing’ is soothing music that’s not just whale noises!