Years ago I remember this being a HUGE “woo-woo, granola” thing to do. No one I knew really understood or saw the benefit. They just attributed it to yoga, or Eastern Medicine and spiritual practices. People I knew mentioned and appreciated Meditation practices in their historical context, but didn’t see their place in our current world, or at least didn’t put them into practice for reasons I don’t fully understand. - I am so thankful for the internal draw I had to yoga, eastern medicine and the “woo-woo” of the world.
Mediation is so much more than sitting in stillness with zero thoughts in your head. We sometimes overlook the most basic form of meditation – Breathing.
We breathe all day long. Most of the time with no effort or awareness.
Meditation has been a key tool for me learning to understand and live with my emotions, understand situations from a new perspective, let things just be as they are and not try to control them, and a major player in helping me get out of depression and away from anxiety.
So why do we mediate? Why is noticing, controlling, or being aware of your breath, (and the tons of other things that meditation brings) so important?
I could get lost in the sauce with all the benefits and ways to approach meditation, but for now I’ll focus on breathing and some overall/general health benefits of practicing meditation regularly. I won’t dive too deeply into the world, but more so just a teaser of information that will hopefully spark interest for you to begin this journey on your own. I am a big believer that this is a personal journey. Yes, get a guide, follow apps/videos that help you, but ultimately what happens during your mediation is just yours.
I have a Video posted on YouTube guiding you through a beginner meditation exercise. Simple, short and zero expectations of outcome. Feel free to check that out if you want to begin your journey. There are also some amazing resources that I love at the bottom of this blog post!
Ok, lets answer the above questions and prompts.
Why do we meditate?
That is not a “one size fits all” answer. People meditate for many reasons. I came into meditation via way of yoga. It was my least favorite part. I didn’t enjoy being still, or going slow, and I thought the point was to “quiet my mind” and that wasn’t explained until much later in my life, so I took it to mean that I wasn’t allowed to think thoughts and if I was doing meditation correctly then my mind would be blank…..
Thank all the everything’s that this isn’t the case. I digress.
Meditation can bring about the following benefits:
· Reduction in Anxiety
· Better Sleep
· Hormone Regulation
· Boost in Immune System
· Memory Improvement
· Improved Heart health, including better blood flow and lowered blood pressure
· Mental calm
· Reduction of physical pain
These are just a few! If you are spiritual person, meditation is a great way to connect with your internal “self” and your higher power. It can help us release the “ego” and remove ourselves from the physical body to make room for the spiritual – whatever that might mean to you.
Alright, lets chat about breathing. Unless you are new here, then you know that I love to see how things help the body become more successful in your physical practice of choice. Whether that’s walking, power lifting, gardening, swimming, dancing, CrossFit, or table hockey. Our breath can make major impacts on the success of these activities.
Ever try something new and realize you’re holding your breath? There is some great science behind this (Here is one article that sheds some light on this) but ultimately, it’s an instinctual response that we do so we can send our brain power to what we are focusing on. Doesn’t sound terrible. Unless this becomes something you do often. Honestly, you might do it way more than you are aware of. Holding your breath in this way can cause some health issues over time. Mostly but triggering our Sympathetic Nervous system aka Fight or Flight. You’re essentially stressing yourself out even more! EEK
Being able to build a relationship with your breath could help you notice these times and educe the how often you are holding your breath during situations like email, trying to sort out a high priority task at work, or thinking too hard about anything really.
Enough science chat – what this boils down to is that mediation and breathwork go hand in hand with our health. Your ability to potentially heal yourself, calm yourself down reduce your stress levels, lies in your willingness to spend 5-10mins a day practicing mediation.
Here are some ways I like to practice meditation and work on my breathing.
First, join me here and I’ll guide you through a very short, simple meditation.
Then, check out these apps that I love.
Love, Heather & Maverick