Meditate for Mental and Physical Health
By Carol Phillips
Meditating for mental and physical health is an important part of balancing our busy lives. Are you giving your brain time each day to unwind, rest, and rejuvenate? Do you use the power of meditation to improve your quality of life? People who meditate, especially daily, know first-hand the many mental and physical benefits of this healthy habit.
According to Merriam-Webster, meditation is defined as: “to engage in contemplation or reflection.” I describe meditation as “letting your brain relax and be free.” There’s a funny, but true saying that goes something like this: “If you don’t have five minutes to meditate, meditate for 20.” In other words, if you can’t find five minutes for your health, you are overscheduled, which can lead to a host of health problems, including chronic stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Why is it important to implement meditation into our daily lives? Our lives tend to be overly scheduled and we continuously deal with unavoidable stressors and challenges. Meditation helps us to take a pause from the constant onslaught of information entering our brains. Our mental and physical health is often screaming for us to JUST STOP FOR A MOMENT or two… or ten—but are we listening? Too often, the answer is no.
Meditation is an extraordinarily healthy habit. When we purposely meditate, we are fully engaging in letting our brain “do its thing.” This wonderful behavior is an invaluable way to prioritize mental health.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Identify one or two times during the day that would be best for you to meditate. It doesn’t have to be a big block of time, unless you want it to be. One or two minutes daily is better than none and you can build from there. One suggestion is to mediate upon waking and either after work or before bedtime. It’s a great way to relax before going to sleep.
- Sit in a comfortable position in a quiet environment, if possible. Wiggle your upper body for a few seconds, then settle into a still, relaxed position with your spine straight (leaning causes stress and physical distraction).
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Close your mouth and relax your jaw. Consciously relax all your muscles, from the top of your head, all the way down to your toes.
- Slow your breathing and take yourself, mentally, to a setting you find very peaceful. For me, it’s the beach. What is it for you?
- Remind your brain to be calm and gently dismiss any negative or busy thoughts that come into your mind. Enjoy the experience of the quiet, tranquil setting you have created while your brain and body begin to rejuvenate.
- Notice that the longer you meditate, the better you feel.
- When done, take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Open your eyes and gently begin to move. Be conscious of all the ways you feel better, which will motivate you to find more and more time to practice this healthy habit.
- Give yourself positive feedback every time you prioritize time to meditate.
Ask family, friends, and co-workers what helps them to prioritize daily meditation. Ask a friend to meditate together after exercising. Or meditate with family members before bedtime.
People who meditate daily often share that this simple practice has greatly enhanced many areas of their lives. Are you ready to reap the benefits? Give your brain the daily rest it needs to help you stay mentally fit!
Carol Phillips (“Coach Carol”) is an author, speaker, health coach, and consultant. She is the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health and Coach Carol’s Do-It-Yourself Health Coaching Guidebook. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at www.HealthDesign