Mind-full: Closing the Tabs
February 23, 2022
Mind full? Whose isn’t? Sometimes it can feel like we have a million tabs open inside our brain, just like on our internet browsers. Everyone has different life experiences and varying backgrounds that affect our life’s journey, a journey which has led us to where we are now. The world around us creates stress in many ways. Stressors like our jobs can be long-term, but we experience small stress moments too, for example, running late for an appointment. Meditation can help relieve stress but requires consistency and routine. There is no way to eliminate stress completely from our lives, but there are ways to manage it. Meditation is a great way to begin the process of closing the open tabs in the brain. Meditation is a way for us to pause and think deeply about our lives and consider all its possibilities.
Not only is meditation a way to pause and think deeply, but there are also many scientific health benefits to it. On the mindful.org website, Jeremy Adam Smith et al, in the article “10 Things We Know About the Science of Meditation,” they explain that practicing meditation can decrease or minimize the body’s inflammatory response to psychological stressors. The most noticeable decrease is found in those individuals who have been practicing meditation long-term. The amygdala and the prefrontal cortex are the parts of the brain that create a reduced reaction to everyday stresses of life and aid in the recovery of a stressful experience. Meditation can have a positive effect on how we manage our stress in a more productive way.
If you can integrate meditation into your life, little by little, you’ll start to feel the positive effects of it, and this can be realized by staying still and quieting our mind. Staying still can mean either sitting, standing, or lying down with or without props. Utilizing these techniques will help us get the most out of meditation and experimenting with each of these positions will help us determine which one is most effective. One technique that helps with all forms of meditation is relaxing into a comfortable position, breathing slowly and with deep inhales and exhales. There are different types of meditations to indulge in, as what works for one may not work for all! Three of the many types of meditation are: Breath Awareness, Mantra Repetition, and Sensation Awareness.
Breath Awareness is coming to a state of mindfulness by focusing all our concentration on our breathing. The first few times trying any form of meditation, it is common to experience a bit of mind wandering. Don’t be discouraged; this is normal. Like any new experience, meditation requires practice. To experience a deeper state of mindfulness, total concentration on each in and out breath is required.
Mantra Repetition brings us to a deeper state of mindfulness by repeating, either out loud or in your head, a mantra. Tris Thorp, a Vedic Educator and Lifestyle & Leadership Coach, wrote an article on Chopra.com, explaining what a mantra is. She said, “The word mantra can be broken down into two parts: “man,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means transport or vehicle. In other words, a mantra is an instrument of the mind – a powerful sound or vibration that you can use to enter a deep state of meditation.” My favorite mantra for this type of meditation is “Soham.” According to Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, Soham is a Sanskrit word which means, “I am He\She\That,” and is a Hindu mantra. This is a great mantra because it indicates a knowingness that you are connected to the universe, source, God, or the particular entity you may believe in. You can use any phrase, sound, or vibration as your mantra. If you are interested in learning different mantras, the SCL Health website has a blog post called, “16 Mantras to Start Your Day Off Right,” with a lot of great mantras to try. The idea behind Mantra Repetition is to get lost in the mantra. The mantra chosen helps eliminate all external and busy thoughts; while helping to maintain focus, which keeps the mind from wandering.
Sensation Awareness promotes a focused mind by allowing it to wander and connect to the body as it recognizes the different types of sensations. Noticing the legs and feet becoming one with the earth, noticing how the hands and arms feel as they rest on the legs, sensing the nose tingle when it itches, and feeling the heart pumping. Sensation Meditation is another way to keep the mind focused and to avoid the endless chatter of external thoughts. Quieting the thoughts will help us go into a deeper state of mindfulness, allowing for an enjoyable journey to stress reduction.
These methods of meditation are simple introductions to the peacefulness beginners will enjoy but are also enjoyed by advanced meditators. There are many other methods of meditation to be explored. To learn more, check out this website: everydayhealth.com. There are also many different avenues for exploring meditation, with guidance or independently, free or with a subscription, as well as websites and apps. Some apps to investigate would be Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer (I use this and it’s the most bang for no buck), Unplug, Simple Habit, etc. The three types of meditation described are the ones I enjoy the most, as someone with a lot of chatter in my mind. The more meditation is practiced, the more beneficial it becomes.
As stated earlier, long-term meditators, or those that consistently practice meditation reap the most benefits. Long-term meditators have developed daily or weekly routines. According to an article written by Arlin Cuncic, MA, on meditation, published on the verywellmind.com website, she states “to see benefits from meditation, you should aim for at least 10 minutes a day at minimum.” She also states, “Studies have shown that people who meditate daily are more likely to stick with their routine and benefit more from meditation than those who don’t.” To initiate a routine, consider starting off with a small goal such as ten minutes a day and increase it as needed. If you are anything like me and you get overwhelmed easily; meditating for 30 minutes could be overwhelming and you might give up and quit after a while. Finding ten minutes each day to meditate is a much easier goal to achieve!
We can usually find ten minutes to sit down and quiet our mind through meditation. Whether it’s early morning, to peacefully start the day, or in the evening to relax the mind before we sleep. Through disciplined consistency and focused mindfulness, we can take control of our open tabs and manage the stress that seems to bombard us at every turn, by breathing, chanting our mantra and being aware of our sensations. Namaste.