Trying to reduce stress or just learn how to better train the mind through meditation takes practice. Though there are so many different ways to practice it in this quest to redirect thoughts for more clarity, health benefits, anger management, and a sense of calm, it can be a helpful tool for everyday life.
Meditation Is Valuable for Health and Mental Wellness
When you learn to relax and gain control of your body’s parasympathetic nervous system that controls the body’s unconscious actions to transit energy through the nerves, you have more power over lowering blood pressure, stress levels, refining heart rates, managing chronic pain to inflammation.
For some people, it is easier to take a position and breathe while clearing their mind of all distractions. Yet, this task is not as easy as it sounds when trying to block out all outside distractions and stored thoughts. Meditation is like any skill you try to learn that takes time. However, the best place to start as I have discovered is beginning with focusing on how to control your breathing.
This practice is easier to do when you are alone in silence. The reason you don’t want to hear a television, radio or people talking is so that the only thing you can hear is the sound of your deep breathing. Recognizing the rhythm of your breathing is crucial for the brain to improve your mood and thoughts.
Find a comfortable spot to sit on the floor or a chair. Regardless of the spot you choose, the important thing to remember is keeping your back straight. If you’re using a chair, your feet need to be firmly planted with hands resting on your thighs. I like to use an exercise mat on my floor when I practice it. I do the same thing with my hands, but I sit with my ankles crossed when I begin.
You are supposed to close your eyes before concentrating on your breathing technique. Closing off what you see helps minimize visual distractions while trying to focus. Afterwards, you take a normal breath in and out through your nose with your mouth closed just to get a feel of your breathing. This calm, steady pace of breathing without tensing your facial muscles is like the warm up exercise for the next step of deep breathing.
The goal is deep breathing through the lungs by slowly inhaling and exhaling while counting to three or four before releasing the breath. When you concentrate on something that is relaxing like a private beach while taking those slow, deep breaths and holding for a few seconds, you can try to see through your mind, images of the ocean. The blue-green water may ripple as it moves, the sun may be bright and shining to reflect yellow streaks across the water. Sand may be on the beach. What I am saying is however that you are comfortable in trying to daydream for grounding troubled thoughts, controlling stress or seeing hopeful possibilities of what you desire can be your start to train attention and awareness.
If you can’t gain mindfulness with closed eyes because of intruding thoughts, you can try opening your mind in another way. Instead of closed eyes, try keeping your eyes open to focus thoughts in a different fashion such as in practicing Zen meditation. While still sitting in the same position, find a fairly close object in the room that is about three feet or so away to stare at while deep breathing. You don’t have to rivet your gaze to the object, but just keep your eyes on it while breathing so you have a focal point in the room. This will help your concentration.
I am by far hardly an expert, but I think it does help with pain and relaxation whether you keep your eyes open or closed. I am doing meditation with my eyes open, but hopefully I will progress to one day mastering the closed eyes technique to benefit from its mental benefits.
Have you tried this ancient practice of any sort yet? Let me know and tell me what you think about it.