Does your cell phone or computer ever act up? After trying everything else possible to fix it, you probably resort to turning it off and then restarting it. This little reset often resolves whatever little glitch there was that set the technology off track. Phones and computers have very impressive circuitry, but even more impressive is that of the human brain. Meditation is an easy way to give your brain that restart that it needs to reset when it's overloaded.
Meditation is literally just emptying your mind of thoughts. It sounds easy enough, but can be pretty difficult when you first try it. You might not even realize how many thoughts that you have running through your mind at any given second, but with practice you can not only recognize all of these thoughts but also control them. The key is not to get discouraged. Just like muscles must be repeatedly worked out to grow stronger, your mind must be trained to empty.
If you're new to meditation, start small. Aim for as little as two to five minutes of meditation per day and work your way up from there. While there are many different types of meditation and many different helpful tools and apps, the simplest meditation to start on your own is what we listed above. Find a quiet, distraction-free place to sit, set a timer for five minutes, and just focus on your breath, counting seconds as you take a DEEP inhale (filling as much of your lungs as possible), holding your breath once your lungs are full, taking a FULL exhale (pushing out all of the air from your lungs), holding your breath once your lungs are empty, and repeating. We especially like this method because it involves clearing out stale air and bringing in more fresh, oxygen-rich air to circulate through the body. The goal is to eventually slow your breathing to the point that you can count longer periods of time in each phase, but breathing for four counts (or even lower if needed) is a good start.
Even the most focused person may notice that thoughts still try to worm themselves into his or her consciousness while counting breaths. When this happens, acknowledge that they're there and then let them float away. Don't let yourself get hung up on them or follow them, but just tell yourself that you can go back to them later. With time you'll notice that this happens less frequently. That being said, if you try our technique and really can't focus, try an app or search YouTube for a guided meditation. (One of our favorites is on our Pinterest fitness board.) Listening to someone else's voice walk you through relaxation provides more of a distraction from your thoughts and can be a useful stepping stone on your way to solo meditation.
Are you ready to start meditating? It is a practice, and it's best to get started sooner rather than later, so you'll be a pro by the time you really need it, say when a stressful situation really throws you off. Have a peaceful week!
Kathleen Ellerie is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.