Today’s relaxation blog is via CWH’s Dr. Sally Mravcak:
Mindfulness meditation: the type of meditation where you sit quietly, in stillness, and pay attention to your breath as it flows in and out. No thinking about your to-do list, no checking face-book/instagram/twitter/pinterest, no running around…you get the point.
I am the last person you would think of as a “meditator.” I’m not good at sitting and I need to move. But, when I started reading about all the potential benefits of meditation, I decided to get myself a cushion, download a mindfulness audio track, and get into a comfortable position.
In the last fifteen years a growing body of scientific data has shown that meditation has the potential to affect mental and physical health in a positive way. Who doesn’t want that?
Research has shown that mindfulness meditation can:
- Reduce anxiety, depression, and chronic pain
- Increase activity in the area of the brain responsible for learning and emotional control
- Improve mental resilience (a recent study with Marines found that attention and working memory were better when they meditated for as little as 12 minutes a day!)
- Improve multitasking
- Help smokers quit
- Reduce hot flashes
- Help with weight loss
So what was my experience with 12 minutes of meditation a day for one week? Well, there’s no way to know if I grew my gray matter or if my war zone function improved. I definitely experienced “monkey mind” – the term meditators use to describe unsettled, restless, and uncontrollable thoughts that happen during meditation. (Think: drunken monkey screeching, carrying on and jumping from tree-limb to tree-limb.) But, despite the drunken monkeys, I did notice that, overall, I felt calmer, more patient, and generally happier. And, a most amazing thing happened – my eleven year old daughter became very interested in the meditation corner and we did one 5 minute session together where I sat on the cushion and she sat on my lap. It was a most peaceful and memorable moment. So, it’s on to week two of taming my monkey mind and one more week closer to Nirvana (and I don’t mean the grunge band).
Here are some tips on how to get started, yourself.