In my last post you learned about mindfulness and how to apply it to eating.
Meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand. For my own personal introspective research I want to experience the correlation between the two and see how other areas of my life are positively impacted and record it on my blog.
I invite YOU to come along with me!
With the craziness of the holiday season I have to admit that my meditation practice has fallen by the wayside. But, that’s about to change!
In this post, we are going to begin a meditation challenge together.
Meditation’s many benefits include: reduced anxiety, increased overall emotional health, enhanced focused thinking, and improved cognition.
The challenge is simple.
5 minutes of intentional meditation daily.
How I plan to embark on the challenge:
1. I will begin in the morning, by filling a cup of tea or water. And then, set myself down in front of my bedroom window, or any spot that I feel comfortable and where there is plenty of light. I will begin a timer for 2 minutes, as I close my eyes and set my intentions for the day and for my meditation practice.
2. In the evening when I begin my timer for 3 minutes of meditation I will make a conscious effort to avoid artificial light. I will pay attention to my breath and allow my mind to wander to events of the day for about a minute before I set them aside and focus more intensely on the present moment.
I will not force the ending of either of these meditation sessions. If the timer pings and I am not yet ready to reconnect with the outside world then I will take advantage of the stillness I feel and allow myself to sit and breath a little while longer.
Breathing IN and OUT consciously I will focus on the air as it fills my lungs and belly; Being cognizant of the thoughts and emotions that pass through my mind and body without feeling the need to attach any judgement to them. I will feel them as they come and then let them go, or spend time with them accordingly.
I might recite a favorite mantra or affirmation of mine. I recommend you choose a mantra to repeat in your head or aloud. You can get some ideas online, from this blog post, or seek out inspiration in your daily life to customize your own.
One of my personal favorites is:
I am loved. I am whole. I am healing. I am healed.
Meditation has led me to incredible epiphanies about myself, what I want in life, and has given me closure from past emotional traumas (we all have them and there is no reason to be ashamed of them).
Trauma can be defined as a “deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” But many psychologists argue that every individual’s threshold for trauma is different and as humans we experience varying degrees of traumatic events– beginning with birth all the way up until death.
The concept of both birth and death are a lot to grasp on a metaphysical level–which can cause emotional distress for many.
Meditation is a great way to quell an existential crisis, as it draws us into the present moment.
This is as aside– and extraordinarily personal, but in these moments of meditation, I often find myself crying and feeling overwhelmed with empathy and compassion for myself. It may sound silly to say I have empathy for myself but when we experience trauma we often disassociate from the distressing events and emotions that arise as a coping mechanism. This is fairly common and happens on many levels on a daily basis.
Have you ever felt stressed and noticed you’ve completely disengaged from a conversation you overtly appear to be having–but you haven’t digested a single word of what the person across from you had said? Have you ever starred into space? Or caught yourself peeling your cuticles or picking at your skin without even realizing when you began engaging in the behavior? All of that can be categorized as disassociating to some degree.
When these behaviors occur on a regular basis or become pervasive and effect your ability to bond with loved ones, get work done, or live your life comfortably that’s when they become disorders and it’s time to seek medical attention from a mental-health professional.
Often times people who have experienced intense physical distress or emotional trauma report having “out-of-body” experiences which is a very severe example of dissociation.
Breathing is a helpful grounding technique.
That’s also why people who are “freaking out” are often told to just breath. As focusing on breathing helps calm our sympathetic nervous system which gets all out of whack when we are stressed. The essence of meditation is bringing awareness to breath; thus making it a very effective method of releasing pent up emotions and self-soothing.
Meditation is such a personal and emotional release. We hold so much emotion and so many physical memories within our bodies that we may not even realize. In meditation, things come up from years past that have affected us — and we may not even know how profoundly or to what extent our emotional responses to certain events have shaped us until we take this time to just be and breath.
I was just recently speaking to a friend of mine from overseas who embarked on a meditation retreat for 10 days. She did nothing but eat, sleep, and meditate. In this time she found herself feeling sad about events she hadn’t thought about in years!
This same phenomenon is true for 5 minute meditators like you and I– so be prepared.
If you’re experiences with meditation are anything like mine you may even find yourself feeling the most intense JOY over the simplest occurrences and a DEEP sense of gratitude.
There have been times when I was meditating and became completely awash with the feeling of being so loved and cared –for no particular reason at all– that it brought me to tears.
So get ready to delve a little deeper to address the mental & spiritual spheres of your health– it will all be well worth it, happy & sad tears alike.