Meditation is gaining popularity as part of health and wellness trends all over the world because of three main reasons: it’s (relatively) easy to do every day and everywhere, it can be very calming and relieving, and it has long term benefits for the mind and consequently body.
At Sweetwell, we promote a lifestyle that makes you happy, that makes you well. Meditation can reduce age-related memory loss, can help control anxiety, will definitely reduce stress, has been proven to lengthen attention span, and in general, changes your brain and mind for the positive.
Benefits: It Changes Your Brain For Good
For a long time, meditation was stigmatized and thought of as ‘doing nothing’ and got categorized as a pseudoscience, spiritual practice and other labels that undervalued it’s potential for health benefits. In some ways, it is a spiritual practice and it is doing nothing, but in other ways, it is one of the most important tools we have for the physical and mental aspects of our wellbeing.
It’s surprising to look at the benefits and literally changes in your brain that meditation (even if it’s only five minutes in the morning!) can bring to your physical body and consequently mental and emotional counterparts. Several neuroscience studies have shown how meditation can actually enlarge the prefrontal cortex, thicken the hippocampus, enhance gamma brainwave activity and overall increase grey matter.
Are you convinced? Are you ready to go over the basics of meditation? Starting to meditate is easy. You should ignore everyone and any suggestion that meditation is hard. The human brain normally fires and fires and it’s part of our current modern world to overthink. So meditation will counter that! Please feel no pressure to have a ‘blank mind’.
In the beginning it may seem you are doing it wrong because you are not ‘emptying the mind’ or you still have thoughts. You deserve a prize if you already took a few minutes of your time to read about meditation, find a space (couch or a pillow on your floor), sit in a position that feels comfortable and check in with yourself. Close your eyes and breathe in. Breathe out.
Even if it’s two minutes, this moment to pause is gold. From here, you can ‘extend’ and deepen your meditation practice, but this is the most important part: that you got here. That you decided to give yourself a breathe and a check in.
Set It Up: Meditation Mood
Here are some things you can do to set up yourself and your environment into a meditation and relaxation mood:
- Candles: lower lights and use a candle, maybe with a scent, maybe just focus on the subtle light and flickering of the fire
- Cushion: posture can play a big role when starting to meditate. You have to be comfortable and ideally have a straight spine. Find a cushion and position that is relaxing for you. If you need to sit against a wall that’s valid too.
- Incense: can add the element of smell and make you focus on one thing. It can also be visually pleasing to watch it burn.
- Count mala beads: traditional Hindu prayer beads can add the element of counting to meditation. You can repeat a mantra, or just count as you grab each mala or bead. Repetition can lead to a meditative state.
- To start meditating, find a comfortable position in the cushion you set up or maybe elsewhere.
- Sit as straight as possible and find yourself where you are.
- Close your eyes and inhale.
- Focus on your breathing pattern: how your belly and chest expand, and then they shrink.
- Reconnect with the breathing when you can: the mind WILL wander, but always try to come back to your breathing pattern or sensation.
- Stay here for as long as you want.
That’s it. You just meditated. The more you do it, the more you will realize it’s simplicity but also it’s powerful healing effect. Don’t pressure yourself into ‘slowing the mind’. This will naturally happen.
Think of meditation as a check in with yourself. Some days you will connect more in the physical aspect and the breathe, some days you might be in your mind, your thoughts, maybe a pain or a frustration that’s with you. Meditation allows you to observe each and any of these feelings and to start making peace with them.
Practice as you can. Meditation is easy, fun and beneficial. At Sweetwell, we want you to feel and be well in every aspect. Combining a practice like meditation with good nutrition is part of the wellness ideal we promote.