By Donna Mischke, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors
Recently I have been experimenting with the art of meditation. For years, I have heard and read how meditating can be beneficial to the body and mind. I didn’t really think it would help or work, although I was very intrigued. Finally, I gave it a try. I started slow and easy trying to keep my mind quiet for only 5 minutes and building up daily to around 15 minutes. This process took about a month. I am still far from becoming an expert, but I can say that I can already feel many benefits and know that I will continue to explore meditation practices.
Meditation is defined as the act of remaining in a silent and calm state for a period of time. The origin of meditating can be traced back to India many years ago. There are many types of meditation and different ways to meditate. Vipassana, chakra and yoga are three types of meditation used widely. Vipassana means to see things as they really are and is used to create awareness. Chakra meditation involves a transfer of energy throughout the body in a cycle pattern and focuses on different parts of the body and what each means. Yoga meditation uses controlled breathing along with different poses which require concentration on flexibility. Other popular types of meditation can include mindfulness, transcendental and guided. Mindfulness meditation is one that can be practiced anywhere and anytime. It focuses on just being mindful of your thoughts and actions without overly reacting or judging. Transcendental is a technique where one repeats a mantra or small phrase over and over during the meditation process. Guided meditation involves imagery or visualization and is typically led by a teacher or guide.
The process of meditation can be started anytime. Experiment with the different types to see which one may be a better fit. To start, find a quiet, calm place to sit. Then, set a time limit. I recommend setting a timer for 3 to 5 minutes when first beginning. Start out with smaller increments of time and build up to longer ones. Setting a timer helps keep the mind from asking when the process will end. Concentrate on the sensation of breathing as it goes in and out of the nose. If the mind wanders, bring it back to focus only on the breathing. I have found that focusing my mind on white noise like a running fan can help to keep the mind from wandering. Remember that your goal is to quiet the mind and declutter it for a short period of time. Experiment and try different types to find what might work best.
Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and improve mental, spiritual and emotional health. It is also known to improve memory, increase creativity, and reduce anxiety. Experts indicate that meditation can help fight addictions, generate kindness, lengthen attention span and may even reduce age related memory loss diseases such as dementia. Only ten minutes a day has been proven to greatly improve mental health. I am now trying to get my husband and children to give it a try. I won’t say that it is easy to quiet the mind in the beginning, but just like a muscle that needs to be exercised, it does improve with practice and time. There are phone apps and You Tube videos devoted to meditation practices that can be very useful to help find focus and peace. The ways to meditate are as varied as the benefits and they all have the potential to transform your life in extremely positive ways.