Wednesday, 31 July 2013

2nd Step to Getting Healthier

So if you have successfully followed the first step for the last couple of weeks, congratulations! You have added a new healthy habit to your daily lifestyle. There may not be drastic changes in your life from drinking a glass of water everyday, but that's the whole point. Drastic changes are harder to maintain, remember it took you this many years to gain the bad habits you now have. They built up slowly and gradually, so it will take a slow and gradual process to replace them with healthier habits. Keep drinking that glass of water everyday, your body will thank you for it in the long run. :-)

So the second step I would recommend will benefit you in many ways and not just your body but also your mind. Can you spare 5 minutes in your day? Yes, that's all, just 5 minutes. Any time of the day, morning, afternoon, evening, and you can even do it while you commute to work, if you take public transit that is. It is just a 5 minute meditation. Okay, before you roll your eyes, you might like to know the benefits of doing this. Meditation can lower your blood pressure, reduce the effects of stress on your body, actually change your brain chemistry so that you will think more positively, and help you to concentrate better. Are you willing to give 5 minutes of your day for these benefits?

If you have never meditated before, no worries, I will do my best to give you a step by step guide. This is a mindfulness meditation and is easy to do.

1. Sit in a good firm chair with your feet flat on the ground and your back as straight as possible without being in pain or being uncomfortable. If you would like to try doing a full or half lotus position, you can give that a whirl, but sitting in the chair is just as good. (See Google images or search for full and half lotus positions for more information.)

2. Now that you are sitting in the chair or in a lotus stance, you want to place your hands in your lap. You take your left hand and place it palm facing up and then place your right hand on top of that again with the palm facing up. Then touch your thumbs together and place your hands in a way that your thumbs will be pointing towards your navel (bellybutton). This hand positioning might seem a little awkward at first, but you will get use to it.

My stick figure is a little stiff, you don't have to sit that rigid, just be relaxed.

3. So, now that you are in position, you close your eyes. This helps to keep you from getting distracted by things around you.

4. Think of how this meditation will benefit you and others. This portion is called finding your motivation. Just spend a few seconds of time thinking of the benefits this action of meditation will give you and those around you. If you improve your health and your mind, other people around you will benefit, too naturally. Wanting to do this meditation for positive reasons that will benefit other people not just yourself, improves our feeling of well being.

5. After your motivation, bring your attention to your breathing. Breathe through your nose. If your nose is stuffed up or you find it difficult you can breathe through your mouth. This is the important part here: You concentrate on the feeling of the air coming into your nose and going out of your nose. It may be a slight tickling feeling or a pressure in your nostrils or the rim of your nostrils, or the feeling of cool air entering and warmer air leaving, but that is what you are putting your effort on. Pay attention to the feeling in your nose or if you are breathing through your mouth on your lips of the air as you breathe in and the feeling of the air as your breath out. That is all you are concentrating on, just the feeling of the air as your breathe.

You do not follow the breath itself, but just notice the feeling at the rim of your nostril or your on lips.

Do this for 5 minutes.

6. Don't get upset if you find your mind is wandering all over the place, that is perfectly normal. Don't quit. Just simply bring your mind gently back to the feeling of your breath. You may find you need to this several times, again this is normal- you are not failing, you are in fact succeeding. This proves your mind is paying attention and working to improve your concentration as it is making you more aware.

Don't worry if you fall asleep either. You aren't doing anything wrong, in fact, your body is probably happy to be so relaxed and is taking advantage of it for a power snooze. ;-) Sleep is an important part of healing our bodies. It's all good, natural and normal. Just bring your mind back to your breathing again and enjoy being that relaxed.

7. When you think you have finished your meditation, slowly and easily come out of this state by gradually opening your eyes and stretching your body out nice and slow. You may find your eyes are watering from being deeply relaxed or maybe not, again it's whatever is natural for you.

(For anyone interested in a Buddhist meditation, you simply follow these instructions being sure to include the motivation for others and just before coming out of meditation, you can add a dedication. Dedicate your meditation session for the benefit of others, perhaps you would like to dedicate the merit to help someone you feel needs help or for all beings, it's up to you. For example, you may say to yourself: "I wish to dedicate this action of meditation to my aunt who is ill, that she may be relieved of her suffering." Anything that you wish to dedicate to benefit others. Anyone can add the dedication, you don't have to be Buddhist, although it is a Buddhist tradition. )

8. If you really need to limit your meditation to exactly 5 minutes and you are afraid of going longer than that you can set a gentle alarm. You want to keep it gentle like soft music, not harsh as this is too jarring. If you don't need to limit it to exactly 5 minutes, then do whatever length of time feels good for you.

That's it, it's that simple. By the way,I am doing this along with you, and although I have meditated for years, I must admit, I have not been able to keep up a daily routine. So once again, I'm trying to do this everyday. I am trying to meditate at the same time everyday, just after I get up for the morning. Wish me luck. I hope you give this a try if you aren't already a meditation master. ;-)

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