Mind, body and soul alike can improve if you take just a few minutes each day to meditate.
Meditation is a method of relaxation where an individual sit’s quietly, clears the mind, and may focus on the breath. The goal is to reduce stress, anxiety and bring inner peace.
We all lead busy, hectic lives and often times it is difficult to quiet the mind, but there are health benefits for those that are able to meditate for as little as 5 minutes each day.
I know this must be true because my Fitbit says so. All I need to do is touch the “Relax” button and, for five minutes, it tells me to “be still… take deep breaths” and even when to inhale and exhale. It may sound silly, but I am that person that always left yoga class early because I just could not relax and it seemed like a waste of time. The soft music and the instructors’ verbal cues to “lock my thoughts up in a box and put them away for later” were not enough to quiet my active brain. As soon as I would begin to find peace, thoughts would come rushing in. “What to cook for dinner?” “My toes are cold and I should have put my socks on.” “Did I put the clothes in the dryer?” I would lay there, fidgeting, trying to find a comfortable position, and make a mental to-do list for the following day, all the while wondering how the rest of the participants could just lay there, unmoving, in their deep state of relaxation.
The first time I was able to actually able to find that same deep state of relaxation, I left feeling more well-rested after 10 minutes of meditation than I had after a good night’s rest.
If you can find a way to quiet your mind, whether it is using your Fitbit to guide you, doing guided meditation in a class, spending a few moments in your office with your eyes closed or retreating to your bedroom after a long day, you will be amazed at how relaxed your body feels and all the benefits that come from mediation.
To name a few things, meditation is said to help with digestion, sleep and physical appearance. Some even say it makes them happier. Mindfulness can help reduce the stress and anxiety that “knot” your stomach. Food won’t break down properly if there is continued tension in the abdomen. Through daily meditation, you can reduce the triggers that cause digestive problems. Do the stresses of what you need to do the following day keep you up at night? Do you toss and turn? It can help you sleep better. Studies show that people who meditate actually have higher levels of melatonin. Meditating before bed will put you in a more relaxed state and will allow your body to fall asleep more easily. It can also make you look younger. Stress accelerates aging, and meditation can help cut back stress in your life. Think of the stiffness and tension that makes lines on your face. By reducing that tension and relaxing your face, those lines disappear, making you naturally appear younger.
Letting things go also makes us happier and calm. By practicing mindfulness, we are able to push away thoughts of negativity.
Angela Fulgieri is the Wellness Experience Director at the Plant City YMCA. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Meditate
- Find a comfortable position, though not so comfortable as to fall asleep.
- Be mindful of your breathing. Inhale and exhale deeply (you may repeat it to yourself, if that helps you to concentrate)
- As thoughts pop in to your head, acknowledge them, and then return to the focus on your breathing. With consistency, you will eventually be able to stop the flow of thoughts and find your inner peace.