by Claire Radwanski
Would you like your brain to operate as if it were 7 years younger? Would you like an improved memory, clearer thinking, less stress?
Recent scientific studies have found there is a way to invite these benefits into your life. It doesn’t have to cost you a cent, and anyone can do it. You can enjoy improved concentration, better sleep, lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and lower blood pressure, through a daily practice of Mindful Meditation. Regular practise can actually change the structure of your brain.
But isn’t meditation only for spiritual folk?, I hear some people ask. Do I have to spend hours crossed-legged on the floor, clearing my mind and retreating from reality? The answer to these questions is No.
Firstly , yes meditation can be part of a spiritual belief system, but it doesn’t have to be. Secondly, you may like to sit cross-legged , but it is also possible to practice in a chair, or in some situations, meditate lying down. Meditations can last from 1 minute to as long as you like. I recommend building up to 20 minutes a day when you’re starting out.
And no, this isn’t taking a break from reality. It can feel like a wonderful time-out, but as you use Mindful Meditation regularly, you will find yourself connecting more to reality and the world in a positive and gentle way.
Sound good? Let’s get started! Read through this list of steps and then you can begin.
First, get comfortable. The aim is ‘restful alertness’. You can sit upright in a chair with your back straight. Place the soles of your feet on the floor.
Take a moment to notice your surroundings and then turn your attention to your breathing. Take slow deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Now, breathing gently, slowly close your eyes. Without judgment, notice the rise and fall of your chest and the sensation of air moving at the tip of your nose.
Know that distractions are a normal part of Mindful Meditation, they are part of the meditation practice. If you have thoughts, you can acknowledge them. These are not bad thoughts, nor good thoughts, they are just thoughts. Let them go and return your attention to your breath.
After at least a minute, and when you are ready to bring your mindfulness practice to a close, take a deeper breath in, and on the outbreath you can gently open your eyes. How do you feel? Calmer? Refreshed?
Mindful Meditation strengthens your awareness of the present moment. It empowers you to see situations more clearly and enables you to choose how you respond. You can use this technique when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, or if you feel yourself getting annoyed. Close your eyes, concentrate on your breath, and take a moment to pause.
Claire Radwanski is a meditation and mindfulness coach in Houston, Texas. She can be reached on Facebook and is available for consultations, private and group lessons, and has a video series so you can dive right in from the comfort of your sofa.