Friday, January 6, 2012

Can a little meditation go a long way?


For the last year, I've been hearing more and more about the benefits of meditation - in books, magazines, on TV, and from friends who practice it weekly. I never thought I'd be the type of person who would even try meditation...until recently.

After doing a little bit of research, I realized that meditation is often misunderstood. When I think of meditation, I used to think of an eccentric person sitting in silence with his/her eyes closed for two hours in the middle of nowhere. While I'm sure that does exist, it's not always the case.

To be exact, here's a definition from dictionary.com:

med·i·tate
1. to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect.
2. to engage in transcendental meditation, devout religious contemplation, or quiescent spiritual introspection.

I (now) have learned that meditation can be whatever kind of silence or "engaged thought" that I want it to be. In an effort to integrate silence and stillness into my life more often, I first attempted meditation through yoga. I believe that yoga is a great happy medium for a person like myself who NEEDS silence in her life but is unlikely "create" it without some other medium. Yoga proved to be a great method for me - guaranteed practice each week.

My second attempt at meditation was using the sauna at my new gym. During the past few weeks, I've developed a new routine that I am learning to love. When I finish my workout, I go to stretch out and then head to the sauna. I sit in the sauna for 5-10 minutes and just breathe while listening to calming music (I actually created my own playlist for this! See my favorite four songs below).

While I am in the sauna, the most important and challenging part of the process for me is trying to control my internal thought process (and ignore the whole overheating thing). I have a tendency to let my thoughts spiral out of control within minutes, which often leads to stressful and/or negative feelings. Thus, I've developed a mantra which I repeat as many times as needed to re-focus myself during my 5-10 minutes of peace (full disclosure here, no making fun):

"This is my time for myself and no one else. I am giving all of my worries and thoughts [to God] and focusing on being present here right now. Only positive things exist in this room."

Here's my question for you: When is the last time you took at least 5 minutes to sit in silence, alone, without doing anything else?

Second question: If you took 5 minutes every day to sit in silence, what kind of impact could that have on your health and life overall?

I am willing to bet that you paused for a bit after reading those questions :).

As I continue my "meditation journey," I'll be posting my findings (as well as some great articles about meditation benefits) here along the way. I am eager to see what positive results come into play. Ultimately, I am hoping that the regular practice will help control my stress levels and help me learn how to better react to the challenges I encounter in my life.

Meditation Playlist: Current Top 4 Songs

"In the Dirt" by S. Carey

"Teardrop" by Massive Attack


"Sea Dreamer" by Sting/Anoushka Shankar/Karsh Kale


"Easy" by Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar
(one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard!)

3 comments:

  1. A very thoughtful message. I guess I conduct more meditation than I thought. (LOL) I used to meditate when I was working. I zoned out all the time during meetings.

    http://www.thegirlieblog.com

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  2. I really like the idea of the 5-minute meditation... it's a cool challenge to do just 5 minutes a day everyday for, say 2 weeks, and note the changes you notice in yourself, your thought patterns, your stress levels, etc. Definitely going to make it daily practice this year :)

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  3. Thank you! I agree that we can conduct meditation more than we think. I love the idea of a 2 week meditation challenge - perhaps I could post about that to see if other readers would join me in the challenge and we could kick it off later this month and share our findings.

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