mental and physical health
Breathing can help prolong your life. Well, especially when you combine it with meditation.
In an age where we are constantly multi-tasking, plugged in, inundated with images, facts and emails and enduring constant over-stimulation, it’s no wonder we’re exhausted and a little frayed at the edges each day.
And when you have added stress, it can affect your body in many ways both physically and mentally. So whether you are going through a difficult time in your life or are struggling with an ongoing mental health issue, adopting mindfulness could be just what the doctor ordered.
Daily meditation (whether it’s for five minutes a day or an hour a day) can help with regulation of one’s emotions, weight loss, diabetes, and can even improve the quantity and/or quality of sleep you get at night.
According to Project Meditation, people who mediate not only have increased health benefits such as lowering heart rate and blood pressure, but have also decreased anxiety and have become more independent and self-confident. Some research studies have even indicated that meditation “may physically change the brain and body,” writes the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine on its website. Sara Lazar, assistant professor of psychology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, gave a TedTalk along the same vein, which you can watch here.
A study done by the Centre For Mindfulness Research And Practice at Bangor University in 2011 showed that 75 percent of people in the study suffering from insomnia were able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed after starting a meditation practice. Sixty percent of people with anxiety were able to lower their anxiety levels after about six months. And for the ladies, great news! The study also showed that women who experienced PMS symptoms said that their PMS improved after five months of steady meditation. That’s amazing.
The good thing about meditation is that it’s not something you need to invest a lot of energy or money in, either. All you need is a quiet space, and a few minutes to yourself.
You can begin by carving as little as five or ten minutes out of your day to sit in a quiet place without any distractions. Wear something comfortable that isn’t constricting or distracting. You may sit or lay down. Close your eyes and breath in slowly and deeply through the nose filling up your stomach area, and then slowly back out through the mouth. Pay attention to the breath, perhaps even counting each breath as you go to help keep your mind from wandering or falling asleep. Do this for the time allotted.
And it can be harder than it sounds for those who aren’t used to sitting by themselves with their thoughts. But meditation can take many forms, too. It can be deep breathing, guided imagery meditation, yoga or tai chi, or even designating a creative space, and making art.
Want to learn more? Try these resources: