Meditation has many health benefits and can really help you heal from injury, illness or chronic conditions. It doesn’t have to be complicated to get started either. Here is a meditation 101 primer for you, to help you unfreeze, focus, re boot, re-frame and calm your mind. Use this acronym and the tips below to help start your practice and read on for links to resources.
SIMMPLE: this may help you remember elements of a meditation practice: Steps to consider:
Select a place. Sit tall. Sitting tall will help you stay alert. Folded blankets or stacked pillows or a “meditation cushion” can help with support. If you have back pain while sitting, you may lie supine, on your back. If you are lying down, turn your palms up and move your arms out to the side slightly, as in the “corpse pose” at the end of yoga classes, Shavasana. The arm posture will help you to not fall asleep.
Intent: Calming, relaxation, peace, and joy. Interest the mind in calming, relaxation, peace, and joy. Intent: Non -judgmental, beginners mind, noticing thoughts and calmly, gently re-direct to present time. Intent: positive feeling, appreciation.
Mental: scanning, body, skin, pressures supported by the chair and floor, and note sounds, sensations, aromas, mood, moment. Melt away from it all.
Mantra; Your phrase. Choose your mantra for calming your mind, and focus. See the guide at the end of this post.
Pace: your breath, with an easy pulse of airflow in, and a pulse of air flow out. Pure oxygen, Pace 1, 2, and 3 inhale, pace pause, pace 1, 2, 3 exhale, pace pause. Peaceful recharge. Pace the breath as a wheel turns, flowing, circular. Gradually lengthen the inhale, the pause, and the exhale, as you are comfortable.
Let: Let go of your thoughts, your busy rabbit brain, let your mind wander and come back, let your thoughts be without judgment. Leave the concerns of the past, leave concerns of the future, and let yourself be. Let go of the need to move or “do” let go, to be present. Let all be. Continue the mantra, and the breath cycling, flowing.
Enjoy: positive feelings, a positive thought, enjoy gratitude. Enjoy a sense of gratitude for the positive things in your life. Enjoy being, and your mantra, and your breath. Enlist all thoughts of gratitude and appreciation.
The practice of meditation can allow you to slow down and focus on moments during the day, with appreciation. This is when meditation overflows to mindfulness. Mindfulness entails a slowing down sense, appreciation and being in the moment throughout the day,
The mantra: A great text is Strength in the Storm, by Easwaren, founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in Berkeley Ca. Easwaren provides examples of how individuals of various faiths can use a mantra specific to their faith for meditation. He advises half an hour in the morning, and evening if possible for meditation and spiritual reading. Even 5 minutes AM/PM can be a good start. You may use his guide for selecting a mantra or simply make one of your own that’s meaningful to you.
There are many free online-guided meditations that can be useful to guide your practice. Here are some links:
About Meditation: This is a nice site with free offerings of guided 10 -minute sessions, great for mini breaks, and more extensive options for those who want to study as a free course.
UCSD Mindfulness UCSD hosts mindfulness based stress reduction training classes, and they offer free online guides, such as a body scan, and loving-kindness. Choose a voice you like, and start with a short one to develop the ability to “be” vs. “do”.
Ipnos Apps: Relax Melodies, apps available for i-phone and Android. I use the combo ocean wave sound, and flute, during yoga, and some meditation session.
Medical effects and benefits of meditation are abundant and there have been many articles in medical literature to describe them. Here are just a few of the benefits: Improved status of those with PTSD, reduced worry and reactivity, improved sleep, improved cortisol levels, reduced signs of cellular-DNA aging with longer telomeres,reduced BP, weight loss, and other benefits as noted in these links:
Meditation is becoming more of a mainstream practice for all of its benefits and ease of performance with simple training. Enjoy creating your own practice, and reap all the benefits that come with regular time for re framing and re booting your body and mind.
About the author: Maureen is a Board Certified Women’s Health Specialist, Credentialed Clinical Instructor, and Professional Yoga Therapist utilizing Medical Therapeutic Yoga. She is an advocate for resiliency training in human performance, and she utilizes principles of meditation/relaxation and yoga postures as part of her Physical Therapy intervention. You may schedule with her at Function Smart to create your own unique mind -body program for wellness.