Friday, November 29, 2013

Starting a Meditation Practice

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Have you  observed your breath.
Starting a meditation practice

How many times have you sat and observed how you breathe? If you have, than you have started a meditation practice. If you have not, than you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn about 2 things you have with you every moment of every day; the body and the mind. Plus through many studies a regular meditation practice can assist in minimizing the affects of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, anxiety, panic attacks, and ADD and ADHD.

Both the mind and body can tell us much about what we need to do to be healthly. The breath is the key component to any yoga practice. The breath is the vital energy or prana of the body and mind. Allowing the union to take place between the mind, body, and spirit. Have you noticed that when you are freighted, stressed, or nervous the breath tends to be more shallow and quick? However, when one is on vacation and relaxed the breath is steady, the inhale and exhale tend to be equal parts and longer. If you have not noticed it in yourself, the best example may be of a baby sleeping,  as they have slow deep breaths because stress and fear have not effected them yet. I have 3 nephews and always love holding them, because when I start to feel their warm bodies relaxing into my arms and their breathing slows way down, I naturally start breathing with them and I find a peace in it.

Once we learn to control the breath the mind follows. When the breath is steady with slow even inhales and exhales the mind starts to slow down. Its not so much that the thoughts all of a sudden disappear but due to understanding how to control the mind by focusing the breath, it seems the thoughts go away or are minimized. Therefore we are left with a feeling of peace and inner stillness. Try to do the below exercise every day for 3-10 minutes a day. Set a timer for your goal time so you feel that there is a space to practice and the mind will not wonder if you are sitting too long and missing your next appointment.

Exercise:
Sit up tall, so the spine is in a neutral position. Feel the sitting bones firmly planted on the chair, the feet flat on the floor or blocks(if the legs do not reach the floor). Feel very supported with the chair and floor.

Observe the breath, how does your breath feel? Is the inhale or exhale shorter than the other? Is there a quiver to the breath? How do you feel physically and emotionally?  This is a time for observation and truth, not judgment. Think of it as taking time to get reacquainted to an old friend. Sometimes we like what the old friend has been up too and sometimes we don’t, but we still love the friend no matter what the actions.

Then start to manipulate the breath by counting with the breath, see if you  can count to 4 while you inhale and count to 4 while you exhale. Do you feel differently than when you first started reading this article and just observed? This practice will make the mind more calm and clear, help the physical body have more energy, and will help the cellular level of the body run more efficiently because the steady exhale allows carbon dioxide or toxins be removed and brings in more oxygen in, leaving the body feel lighter with less aches and pains.

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