Daily Benefits of Mental Exercise: Pt. One
I want you to take three deep diaphragmatic breaths. Breathe inward with your belly, and as you exhale try to locate and relax anywhere you are holding tension. Keep taking these deep breaths until you feel all your tension melt off of you. Get comfortable...
Meditation’s benefits are numerous and in a lot of cases overlooked, mostly due in part to public perception. Meditation can have all sorts of preconceived misconceptions that turn people away and not take it seriously. I aim to help inform you of the wide range of meditative practices that you can use in your everyday life, as well as how taking 15 minutes a day can benefit you in ways you would have never guessed.
Did you know your morning shower is a form of meditation? Have you ever felt that your best ideas come to you in the shower? What is it about showering that makes these thoughts so damn good? Take three deep breaths and think about it before reading on… What did you come up with? Was it the extra time to think? Is it the comfortability of the warm water? How about the privacy of being in a locked room?
These all play their part in the process, but I also gave you a hint before guessing. Breathing patterns. When you are showering you are controlling your breathing and oftentimes you are taking deeper breaths, which causes you to flood your brain with oxygen and activates your Vagus Nerve. Stimulating this Vagus Nerve is like turning every light on in your house. It’s easier to find things that you may have lost, it’s easier to see obstacles in your way, and you generally feel more secure. This is the basis of Meditation.
When I started meditating I would just sit in my bed, legs crossed, making rings with my fingers and thumb. I was uncomfortable, confused as to what I was supposed to do, and frustrated because I was telling myself to shut up the whole time. To be fair, I was only exposed to videos of spiritual Buddhists using mantras (ohm’s), Mudras (finger/hand positioning), and Lotus Positions. That’s like trying to meditate on X Games mode your first day on the slopes.
Training wheels came in the form of a great piece of perspective from a guy on Reddit. Meditation is not about shutting the world out. Meditation is about understanding how you operate. I was too busy telling myself to stop thinking that I didn’t take the time to actually observe the thought I was trying to dismiss. Take three deep breaths... Exhale slowly...
He went on to explain that part of meditating is simply observing the thought. What is the thought saying? Who is saying the thought? Am I saying the thought or am I observing the thought? Why is this thought being relayed? Now, this may sound like hoopla to some, but ask yourself this. When I mess something up, what am I saying to myself? Am I saying nice things? When you look in the mirror, are you kind to yourself? Who’s voice is reading these words?
This is Mindfulness. A genre of the meditative experience.
With Mindfulness comes a lot of understanding of yourself, or as I like to say, your Self. The more you observe the thoughts going through your mind, the better you get at understanding who you really are and how to handle all kinds of situations.
Three. Deep. Breaths.
I just gave you the very most basic principles to meditation. So now what? Well, let’s try to take these lessons into our daily life and see how they play out. Like many of us in this messed up version of reality, we are working from home. Chances are, we face high levels of anxiety and stress throughout the day. When we’re stressed we don’t think straight and we let our minds race all day long.
Something that has worked wonders for me is stepping away to meditate. It can be 5 minutes. It can be 15 minutes. However long you need. Start by getting comfortable and begin taking big diaphragmatic breaths. If your mind is racing, try distracting yourself by internally saying the word “in” while you're inhaling, and “out” while you’re exhaling. Listen or feel for your heartbeat. Eventually, the goal is to be able to calmly process the thoughts and emotions that are rushing through you. Let clarity wash all over you.
Just like a shower.
Here is my Mind Fullness playlist. It's designed to help bring you into a Flow state. Enjoy.