When was the last time you did a “workout” for your mental health?
Our society has been making great strides in taking the taboo out of mental health. Meditation has been gaining research as a treatment to help combat the negative effects that stress has on the body. One form of meditation that is easy to practice is mindfulness sessions. This post will take you through a session that you can perform anywhere and doesn’t require a lot of time (feel free to take as much time as you need though).
First let's look at the benefits of meditation on stress and pain
- It was found on a systemic review that there is moderate certainty that meditation in the short term edges out minimal intervention for disability. Low certainity even suggested it is slightly better then usual care for pain in the long term.
- Meditatin calms down your fight or flight portion of your nervous system (sympathetic nervous system) allowing you to rest and relax
- Increase memory, learning, cognition, attention and self awareness
- Decrease emotional reactivity, stress, anxiety and depresion
- Chronic stress is linked with hormonal distrubances and chronic pain, so it is crucial to have ways to lower our stress levels
Now, let's go step-by-step into one, of many, ways to meditate. This can be done laying down, sitting down and pretty much anywhere at any time. All you have to do is show up and attempt (try not to stress over this and accept whatever state your headspace is in) to be still and focus on your breath as you bring awareness to the different parts of your body.
Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds.
Breathe in through your nose while trying to inflate your abdomen like a baloon and then out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body
Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. Simply let thoughts rise and fall of their own accord and be at one with your breath. Interesting to note, that our brains are wired to focus on things we try to ignore (the amygdala in the brain, for whatever reason, views thoughts that we do not like as a danger signal and makes us hyper focus on what it thinks could be a threat). Try this be telling yourself not to think about carrots for one minute... Try it. Did you not just think about carrots for a minute straught?! lol
Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway as it enters your body and maybe you can almost feel it travel throughout the different body parts, If not you can simply bring awareness to your body parts that are touching things, feet on the floor etc... It is interesting becuase our minds block out stuff like how our socks/shoes feel on our feet, but if you bring awareness to it you can feel those sensations again.
Now, maintaining your breathing. Slowly, start to notice the parts of your body that are in contact with things in your room and the chair. Start with the bottoms of the feet and try to bring awareness to how they feel planted on the ground. Continue by working your way up to the back of your thighs, buttocks, back, arms, and any other body that is in contact with something.
Remember, to let your thoughts come and go without any reaction to them. I always pretend like I am watching tv and my thoughts are an annoying commercial that just came on. All I have to do is take my remote and turn the channel to make it go away lol.
Getting brain “gains” is that easy. This will also reduce stress, reduce pain and long term can result in you getting back to things you love when paired with gentle movement. We would like to encourage you to attempt this every day even if it’s 1 minute. You will be amazed at the positive effects.