Welcome to the 10-part meditation blog series that focuses on the various ways that meditation can assist you and your overall wellbeing.
Each week I will publish a blog specifically dedicated to how a meditation practice can assist with lowering anxiety levels, seeing your path, help your thoughts go by more easily, etc.
Before diving into this week’s topic, I want to take some time to provide some definitions and answer some questions to ensure that we are all on the same page.
Meditation: thinking deeply or focusing one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation
Mindfulness: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis
Why should I care about meditation?
Because it has a direct connection to health benefits such as lower blood pressure, improved blood circulation, lower heart rate, less perspiration, slower respiratory rate, less anxiety, lower blood cortisol levels, more feelings of well-being, less stress and deeper relaxation.
Who should meditate?
EVERYONE! You don’t have to have some enlightened, spiritual abilities to practice meditation. You don’t have to be a yogi and go around saying namaste to everyone. You don’t have to know someone within the meditation community to be invited into it. Literally anyone from toddlers to elders can do and benefit from meditation.
Where should I start?
Take your time in trying out all different types of meditation and mindfulness activities to figure out what suites you best (resources provided below). After more and more time is spent meditating you will become more and more comfortable with the idea of being still and focusing your attention to your breath.
Quick Practice: Let’s Give It A Go!
Find a quiet space
Sit or lie down and get comfortable
Close your eyes
Breathe natural. Make no effort to control your breathing
Focus your attention on your breath. Observe your bodies movements with your breath. Focus your attention on your breath, remembering not to control it and allow it to flow in and out naturally. When your mind wanders, that’s okay, just thank your thoughts for coming and return your focus back to your breath.
Start with doing this for a few minutes, and then add on more time as your practice progresses.
Lowering Anxiety Levels
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
Breaks Anxious Thought Patterns
A common symptom of anxiety is having racing negative and obsessive thoughts that create a vicious cycle of worry within your mind. Meditation can reduce rumination and the break negative thought patterns by increasing your control over random unwanted thoughts and decreasing your tendency to worry by altering the way your brain responds to stress. For example, instead of following your negative thought down the rabbit hole, you learn to view your thoughts differently and recognize it for what it is – a thought – and let it go. Thank goodness to neuroplasticity and your brains endless capacity to change!
Balances Brain Chemicals
Anxiety is brought on by various factors (personality type, emotional trauma, genes, prolonged exposure to stress…) and sometimes causes an imbalance of chemicals within the brain (GABA and serotonin). A meditation practice can assist in restoring the balance of neurotransmitters within the brain by increasing GABA (neurotransmitter connected to feeling happy and relaxed) and serotonin (another neurotransmitter connected to being happy) and decreasing cortisol (stress hormone).
Builds A Healthier Brain
Based on research and scans, individuals who have a regular meditation practice show dramatically larger amounts of gray matter, the volume of the hippocampus, thickness of the cortex, increased blood flow to the brain, improved neural connections between various parts of the brain and decreased size of the amygdala (controls autonomic responses associated with fear, arousal, and emotional stimulation).
Written by: Shannon Gonter, LPCC
I specialize in working with men and young adults. I am passionate about my career and want to work with you to create positive change. I also strive to create a counseling environment where men and young adults can relate, feel heard, and find new solutions to their negative patterns. Some issues that I most commonly work with are stress, relationship issues, difficulty saying “no” to others, difficulties recognizing emotions and emotionally connecting to others, anger, and intimacy issues, among others.
The information and resources contained on this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to assess, diagnose, or treat any medical and/or mental health disease or condition. The use of this website does not imply nor establish any type of therapist-client relationship. Furthermore, the information obtained from this site should not be considered a substitute for a thorough medical and/or mental health evaluation by an appropriately credentialed and licensed professional.