Have you heard? Meditation is good for you. There is an abundance of research showing various effects that meditation practice can have on our physical and mental health and our overall well being. But unlike a pill, meditation requires practice and it’s likely you won’t always immediately notice an effect, thus it may be hard to know if you are ‘doing it right’.
I have been introducing people to meditation and mindfulness for several years through my work as a yoga therapist. And the main concern people have is that they are unable to quiet their mind or control their thoughts. Luckily no mental achievement is required to experience the benefits of meditation, all you need to do is practice.
Meditation is the practice of training your attention and awareness typically using a focus on breath, body, movement, a thought, sound, object or activity. There’s that word again, practice. It’s guaranteed that your mind won’t stay focused throughout a meditation. The work and benefit are in practicing the return to your focus of attention.
Meditation trains our mind in the same way exercise trains our muscles. Our ability to direct our attention needs exercise to get stronger, have stamina and learn new functions. Here are some of the primary benefits to training your mind through meditation:
- The nervous system is directly impacted, specifically several key brain structures
- Meditation bolsters areas of the brain that make us kind, creative, logical, and responsive
- Meditation inhibits areas of the brain that make us fearful, restricted, irrational, and reactive.
- The nervous system is the director of all other systems in our body. So when meditation helps the nervous system function improve, all the other body systems, such as digestion and immunity, benefit as well.
- Meditation also improves our nervous system’s ability to shift from the Stress Response of the Sympathetic System to the Relaxation Response of the Parasympathetic System and not get stuck or stay too long in either state.
There are several ways to get started or restarted with meditation. Apps such as Insight Timer and Headspace are convenient and give you a variety of types or guided meditations. Local to Birmingham, AL you can check out Birmingham Shambala Center or The Art of Living.
You could also work one on one with a trained professional such as myself to learn various techniques for mindfulness and meditation. Use the link here to try out a ten minute breath focused meditation that promotes relaxation.
Remember it’s the practice that counts.
Becca Impello is a Physical Therapist and Yoga Therapist practicing in the Birmingham area for 22 years. She is also co-founder of Practice Works. Connect with Becca through the Practice Works member directory. learn about Yoga and Meditation retreats, trainings and workshops that Becca leads through HereNowYoga.