By Stephanie Sheridan, Yoga and Meditation Instructor at Sports Club/LA - Washington, DC
In meditation, we train the mind by repeating the practice of quieting our thoughts over time. Even the National Institutes of Health refer to it as a type of mind-body medicine because state of the mind can affect your physical health. Just as medicine is used to treat ailments in the body, meditation is beneficial for the body. Not only does it stimulate the nervous system to improve blood flow and digestion, but it also helps with cognitive function, anxiety and depression.
The practice of relaxing the mind allows us to enter into a state of awareness and move beneath the clutter of accumulated thoughts, habits, emotions and past experiences. While it may seem overwhelming to beginners, meditation is simple and uses basic tools.
Here are three tips I find helpful in my own meditation practice.
1. Light a candle. Focus your attention on a fixed object, like the candle, and allow other thoughts to slowly drift away. Using a candle helps the beginner’s mind tune out background noises that may come up and distract during meditation.
2. Strike a pose. Practice meditating while in a yoga pose, such as the downward facing dog. Close your eyes in the pose, focus your attention on the third eye (the space between your eyebrows) and notice how this becomes a meditation. Quieting the mind becomes easier when the body starts working hard.
3. Take a class. The same benefits of working in any exercise group apply to meditation. Being in a group helps push you a little more to finish the practice, eliminates distractions and allows you meet others interested in meditation.
Meditation is a lifelong practice that can take years to implement. But once your body starts to feel better, your mind will want to continue the practice. And you’ll get to know your mind and yourself in ways you never have before. Why not start right now?