Meditation has changed my life.
No, I haven’t become Buddhist. No, I do not note ‘spiritual’ as my official religion. And I’m just about 26 years old, so mid-life crisis has nothing on me.
I once considered the thought of meditation too taboo, and Surry Hillslike, to warrant my full attention. I was aware the benefits were plentiful, and the mind body connection is an important one.
Body knowledge and it’s association with our brain is what we are currently looking at in my Pn studies. Officially it can be referred to as the study of psychoneuroimmunology, but that sounds way too difficult.
Notice how the world around you looks and feels when the mind is unhappy or agitated and again when it is happy and calm. Our perception defines our experience.
Stress and our response to it is known as our allostatic load. This is interconnected by multiple processes, and systems in the body. These are in turn influenced by thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Which then affect the multiple processes some more.
When you consider where these thoughts, feelings, and experiences come from, it becomes clear that the health of our mind, and the health of our body are one and the same. That is, mental training, just like physical training, is a crucial aspect of our health.
Still, not even the most inspirational, widely shared Osho quotes was enough to drag me into a Meditation centre to make lots of ‘Om’ sounds and chant with bald people.
Treat your Head Right
This was until I came across Headspace. If you haven’t already heard, Headspace is a mindfulness program created by Andy Puddicombe.
Andy’s daily lessons have facilitated the process of mindfulness in a way that is most effective for my method of learning. Headspace has made mind training accessible to the masses by using a very gentle, patient method that guides you through the new world of meditation.
When the mind is focused on improving the happiness of others, it is generally calmer, clearer and more content. As a result, the exercise tends to feel more comfortable.
I’ve tried my best to stick with Headspace throughout the last month and a bit. It took me a while to complete the first series, less to complete level 2. Today was my first day of Level 3.
I can now say I look forward to meditating every day. And I’m not fat, I’m not Asian, and I don’t wear a bindi on my forehead.
I have found that the key to consistent practice, as recommended, is to do it upon waking in the morning. The chances of completion become slimmer for every minute that passes after waking.
It also took some time to be OK with sitting with my feet crossed and my eyes closed, gently counting my breaths. I still sometimes feel that precious time is being wasted; that more important things ought to be done. Then Andy reminds me to acknowledge these thoughts, rather than fight them, and so they tend to pass.
The best thing about meditation is that just most other things, it becomes more natural with practice. Initial ‘what the?!’ thoughts are replaced with content, enjoyment, and relief after the practice is done.
Motivation is everything. If the exercise is very goal orientated towards oneself, then it can sometimes add an unnecessary and unhelpful layer of tension and restlessness.
My struggles through the process remain frequent. But when I find that perfect frame of mind, I understand clearly why I ought to include this kind of relaxation in my lifestyle. After a successful bout of meditation I realise first hand why it is associated with lower stress hormones, boosted immune system, improved focus, clarity, and improved mood, and sleep. In other words, magic for the mind.
I never thought I would be the one meditating daily. Or preaching the good word of mind training. If I read this last year I probably still wouldn’t have been convinced.
So I don’t expect you to believe me either. Just download the app, and meet my friend Andy.
Here’s the link to the Headspace website: www.headspace.com
For more on stress, see ‘Good Stress, Bad Stress’ Finding your stress sweet spot by coach Krista Scott Dixon, and coach BSP. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/good-stress-bad-stress