Women's Health Secret: Simple Meditation Techniques To Relieve Stress
by Dr. Michael E Rosenbaum, MD
Everyone knows how to breathe, right?
But did you know breathing can be a powerful stress buster and good medicine for your health?
When you combine this familiar activity with some mindfulness techniques, you transform inhaling and exhaling into meditation. And with meditation techniques, you can transform your chemistry, your mental state, your entire body and, ultimately, your life.
Research has shown meditation can reduce the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your bloodstream. And it increases your attention span – something that always seems to disappear when you’re stressed.1
Best of all, you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy the rewards of meditation. The two forms of meditation for beginners you’re going to learn here are easy to do with a little practice. They can take only about 5 minutes and you can do them anywhere.
They’re powerful and simple.
But please – before we get started - keep this in mind: The key is to suspend judgment when you’re doing this. Don’t worry about if you’re doing it right. Or if you feel weird or foolish. Or wonder, “Am I getting results from this?”
While these exercises center around an activity all of us do every second of our lives, it also may be a little different from what you’re used to.
Simply try it out without expectations or analysis and see what happens after doing it for a while. As Nike says, “Just do it!”
Breathing 101: The Meditation Technique To Start With
This exercise will get you started with meditation. It will help you relax and focus better.
First, get in a comfortable position. I recommend sitting cross-legged on the floor, with a pillow under you to give you a little cushioning and your back up against a wall. Or you can sit in a chair with good back support. You want to be in a position where you can have an upright spine with no pain or discomfort. Let your hands rest in your lap. Uncross them as well. Lengthen your spine and close your eyes.
Start to focus your attention inside you. Shift from awareness of the outside to awareness of what’s going on inside of you. Start to pay attention to your breath.
Then incorporate these steps:
• With each breath in, say “Inhale”.
• Then with each breath out, say “Exhale”.
• And then count “1”.
So for the first breath you’ll say, “Inhale, Exhale 1” and then for the next breath, “Inhale, Exhale 2” and so on.
Here’s the trick . . . Notice if your mind starts to drift away from the words “Inhale” “Exhale” or the number. If it starts to focus on anything else, you’ve got to go back to start. Start again with “Inhale . . . Exhale . . .1”.
Be honest – any thought in your head like “Am I doing this right?” and you go back to number 1. Just focus on “Inhale, Exhale” and the number.
Set a timer and do this for 3 minutes.
Remember, don’t worry about how you do – just enjoy gaining focus over time. There’s no failure, just feedback. Each time you do this, your focus will improve.
Mindfulness expert and Pilates instructor, Karen Sehgal, introduced me to this beginner’s meditation technique. Karen says, “This has been the best life skill I’ve ever developed! It will dramatically improve your ability to concentrate. And at the same time it will help your body calm down and relax.”
She attributes it to helping her get through some pretty challenging times. Try it out – you’ll see what she means.
Gratitude Meditation: Meditation That Changes Your World
There’s a simple law at play in the universe: We usually get what we focus on. Unfortunately, most of us focus on – and get stressed about – what we don’t want. For example, we might get fixated on that big bill that’s due or how fat we feel.
Our energy gets absorbed in this negative thought and we get pulled down by it.
However, if we focus on what we feel good about, it helps us feel better. It shifts our perspective. Going a step further, it helps us get more of this good stuff in our lives.
When we train our minds to focus on things we want in our life, consciously and unconsciously we make decisions and behave in ways to meet these desires. The positive energy we create from this meditation energizes us to attain our goals and sustain what we value most in our lives.
That’s why this other meditation technique from Karen is so powerful. It will help you shift your energy to the positive side of things. Hint: It builds on the exercise we just did. So do that one first!
• Start by sitting or lying down comfortably.
• Close your eyes and allow your awareness to turn inward. Start watching your breath.
• Notice your inhales. And notice your exhales. Every time you feel your awareness shifting away from right here, right now and your breath, shift it gently back.
• Start to focus on what you have – the simple things – food, your home, your own bed, your family.
For everyone it will be different, but here are some things to think about being grateful for:
• Things you take for granted – your health, your body, your hands, your feet – those selfless servants who take you where you want to go all day long.
• People who make you feel great - your best friend. Your family. Your child’s pure joy or smile.
• Simple pleasures like a sunset or the sand between your toes. Smelling a flower.
• Your breath that keeps you alive. Your heart, your organs, your lungs.
What are you grateful for? What makes you feel good?
Think about it and then feel it. It’s going to start as a list. But start to turn that list into a feeling.
• Feel that gratefulness. Allow yourself to feel good. Really feel it. Cherish it.
• When your attention starts to shift, just bring it back.
• Bring your awareness back to your breath. Notice your breath as it is.
Again, set a timer for 3-5 minutes and focus on this meditation. When you’re ready to finish . . .
• Make your breath a little more full and sigh it out your mouth. Like a sigh of relief and contentment.
• And gently open your eyes.
As Karen explains, “I do this when I’m feeling cranky. It helps every time. I’m able to shift my whole mood and energy.”
These Meditations For Beginners Can Change Your Life
Now, I know you’re probably thinking to yourself – “The stresses in my life are complicated – finances, marriage, work! How in the world will breathing a few minutes with my eyes closed make a difference?”
Instead of overanalyzing this, just try it. Over the years of teaching meditation to beginners, Karen says she’s found most people simply have to do it to understand its power.
Meditation won’t necessarily get rid of the challenges in your life. But it gives you greater wherewithal to take them on. And when you gain power in directing your life, your whole world changes.
Do these two meditations techniques for 21 days straight. Set a timer and do them every morning, before you go to bed, or whenever you can squeeze them in.
And I guarantee it will change your life.
1 University of Oregon (2007, October 9). Body-mind Meditation Boosts Performance, Reduces Stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
Dr. Michael E. Rosenbaum is a 35-year veteran and widely recognized pioneer in the field of nutritional medicine, alternative healthcare and medical acupuncture. As one of America's most respected experts in natural health and healing, Dr. Rosenbaum has been a frequent lecturer to professional medical groups and has participated in numerous television and radio talk shows. He is also an esteemed member of the Sun Chlorella Advisory Board, which helps guide the medical innovation behind Sun Chlorella products.
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