Meditation Isn't Just A New Age Practice
Meditation can sound stressful to some, which is the opposite of what its purpose is. To others, meditation seems like something that new age granola-eating hippies did on communes in the seventies. Both are extremes, and neither are what mindfulness is all about. Mindful meditation is a simple, quick practice than when done daily can actually change your brain chemistry to be better equipped to handle stress, reduce depression and pain, feel less anxiety, and help you focus by keeping your mind from wandering. It's also been proven to lower blood pressure and boost your immune system, by improving brain function and reducing stress hormones.
What Is Mindful Meditation?
Many people believe meditation is completely freeing your mind of all thoughts and feelings. However mindful meditation is really quite the opposite. By relaxing through mindful meditation, you are encouraged to identify how your body feels, and what emotions are present. When listening to a guided mindful meditation you'll find your mind will often wander. That's normal because your mind and body are used to constant input from all of your senses and take in all the sounds, smells, temperature and physical sensations of your surroundings. The guide will encourage you to focus on your breath in order to center your thoughts, and focus on your feelings. A simple five to ten minute meditation per day can make a marked difference in your anxiety, concentration and well-being.
There's An App For That
Starting out with a mindful meditation program is easy, as there are many online programs and apps that make it convenient to incorporate into your busy schedule. Simply Google "mindful meditation", or check out these websites to get started:
The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center provides free guided meditations on the website or in the iTunes store. There are a variety of meditations ranging from three to twelve minutes with specifics such as breathing meditation, meditation for working with difficulties, or a body scan for sleep that can help with insomnia.
Get Some Headspace is another site that provides free 10-minute guided meditations with Andy Puddicombe. His soothing voice and British accent make the 10-minute meditations easy to follow. Though he is a former Buddist monk, he's brought mindfulness to the masses by demystifying it and making it accessible and enjoyable.
GPS For The Soul is a free app from The Huffington Post. There are a variety of meditations, affirmations and breathing exercises that range from one to five minutes.
Whichever app you choose, why not give it a try? Start with five minutes a day, and see if it helps you to become more relaxed and focused.