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Find your center with meditation

by Stacey Kaplan LAc, LMT

Here's to 2015 bringing us all abundant health, happiness & prosperity! A new calendar year is a great time to re-assess, re-affirm and rejuvenate. Meditation is a great tool to help get us back in touch with what we need, think clearly about the future and change habits that might not be serving us right now.

Meditation has been in the news a bunch lately. There have been a couple really wonderful studies done on how meditation can change our neural pathways and brain functioning to help mitigate our stress response, not only as we meditate but throughout our whole day. I've added a couple of links to the bottom of this newsletter if your interested in reading more about two of them.

I used to think that mediation meant being able to breath deeply in times of extreme emotion and bring whatever I was feeling (anger, frustration, anxiety) "under control." I found that doing this was not only unhelpful but impossible. A real mediation practice is just that, a practice. It has to be something that's done regularly with patience and compassion in order to receive its full benefits. Luckily, that doesn't mean you have to sit cross-legged in a meadow with no people, places or things surrounding you. Meditation can fit into anyone's day no matter how busy, noisy or crowded life gets.
Here are some suggestions on how to get started.

Chose a time during the day when you can sit quietly for 10 minutes. Before you start your day in the morning, just before bed, at the office, on a lunch break, whatever works best for you. Set an alarm for 10 minutes so you don't have to worry about how long you've been sitting there.
Sit in a chair with your feet grounded, or on the floor, legs crossed, with support under your seat if needed. Back straight, sit bones grounded, head erect, shoulders relaxed.
Breathe fully through your nose, without straining. Mouth closed, tongue lightly touching the roof of your mouth. Send each breath deep into your belly, feeling the belly expand and contract with each inhale & exhale.
Start to scan your body, from head to toes, sweeping your awareness through the body and noticing any sensations. Start with the top of your head, then eyes, nose, ears, mouth, neck, shoulders, all the way down to your finger tips and toe tips. If you notice that you're holding, crunching, straining anywhere, see if you can send your breath into that place to create space and relaxation there. Sometimes this body scan needs to be done a couple times in a row if it's difficult to relax your body or mind. If/when your mind starts to wander, think, plan, worry, day dream, just notice that it's doing so and return to your breath without beating yourself up.
When you're done with the body scan, return to your deep belly breathing and feel your feet firmly planted into the ground, if you're sitting on a chair. Feel as if there's a weight at the base of your spine (your tailbone) sinking into the ground, and the top of your head is being lifted up to the ceiling. This creates a slight traction through your whole spine.

You're done! Thank yourself for making the time to take care of yourself before you move into the rest of your day.

The key is to carve out those 10 minutes every day to give your brain and body time to re-set and relax out of fight or flight mode.
There are so many different types of mediation out there. You can search "mindfulness meditation" or just "mediation" and come up with lots of options.

I'm happy to talk about what kind of meditation may work best for you in our next session too!

Here's to the best year yet!

Mediation article links: