Everyone finds individual methods to improve concentration and/or get peace of mind. Meditation is a free and easy way to do so. First of all, what is mindfulness meditation? Mindfulness meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to how fitness is an approach to training the body. Meditation can be done anywhere - whether you are lying in bed, or doing your daily activities meditation can be done, though sitting upright is preferred.
The Huffington Post provides an article regarding the benefits of meditation such as increasing self-awareness, improving concentration, improving athletic performance by refining the ability to focus on a goal, clears the mind for better quality of sleep, reduces stress and the practice has been known to benefit cardiovascular and immune health. The way mindfulness meditation can benefit cardiovascular and immune health is due to the form of intense relaxation meditating brings. This has been known to increase the compound nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to expand there by allowing one’s blood pressure to drop. Harvard University studies have shown that while mindful meditating, the MRI scans provide results indicating the meditators (but not the controls) had increased concentrations of gray matter in several brain areas, including the hippocampus (a deep brain structure important for learning, memory, and the regulation of emotions) as well as other regions.
Mindfulness meditation can be done in four simple steps.
- Sit comfortably upright in a chair, one foot on top of the other while taking deep breaths while closing your eyes.
- Starting from the top of your head and moving down, mentally scan your body-noticing any tension in your muscles or any discomfort while paying attention to the rhythm of your breathing.
- As you become more aware of your breathing, begin to silently count each inhale and exhale. Your mind will wander and that is natural, but this is when you gently focus your attention back to your counting.
- Before you decide to finish meditating, take a few moments to let your mind do whatever it wants, noticing the surrounding sounds. Then slowly bring your attention back to your physical body and finally, gently open your eyes. The timing for how long you decide to meditate for is solely based on you.
Meditation can also be done without one even realizing it. For example, the groggy first few moments after the morning alarm clock rings, taking a walk for space and/or to clear your head, allowing yourself to mentally “check out” and just focus on the sidewalk, cooking, focusing on your breathing while running and the most common form which is sitting and clearing the mind. Cooking allows your mind to be present in the moment and focus solely on the task or environment in front of us, which is the very definition of mindfulness. These are only a few examples of mediation.
Try this out at home if you have five to ten minutes of free time, it may just surprise you.
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