Years ago when you heard the word ‘meditation’, it was mostly associated with yoga gurus or monks. However, research on meditation has now confirmed the numerous health benefits, both physically and mentally, and you are likely to find people such as CEO’s, football players, students and health professionals including meditation into their daily or weekly routine.
With modern day lifestyles and technology it means that we are rarely unavailable or ‘switched off’. Over me the constant stimulation of the nervous system can lead to health issues, including cardiovascular problems, mood issues, digestive issues and a multitude of nutritional deficiencies.
The purpose of meditation is to give the nervous system a chance to ‘switch off’, relax and recuperate. In doing so, not only does it allow us to feel mentally refreshed, but it also helps to improve a range of physical health issues because the nervous system plays a role in the health of every single body system.
There are many types of meditation that you can consider—and to be perfectly honest, what type you choose doesn’t matter as much as actually just doing it! Most meditations will include breathing techniques and visualisations to help you relax. If you are new to meditation guided audio’s can be great to get you started. There is a great free app called Yoga Nidra that I often recommend to my patients. Even listening to music and nature sounds can induce a meditative state. It is about finding something that works for you.
The key with meditation is to do it regularly, this is when you will get the most health benefits. If you do not have time to get to a class, then try doing 15 minutes before bed or on rising.
Focusing on your breath is an easy meditation that can be done anytime and anywhere. It involves focusing all your attention on the movement of your breath in and out through the nose. You may find it helpful by counting the breath in your mind; each time you inhale count from 1-10 then on the exhale count it down 10, 9, 8, 7 etc. and repeat. Deep breathing has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and heart rate whilst increasing the oxygenation of the body. This is a great meditation to do when you are feeling anxious, nervous or stressed to keep composure.
Remember, meditation has a beneficial effect on most systems in the body, so see if you can take some me out to relax and regenerate and get meditating.
By Lauren Reid
B.H.Sc (Naturopathy), Adv. Dip Naturopathy, Cert. Fert; M.A.N.T.A.
Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner