An Introduction to Meditation

There’s no denying the world has changed – and despite an uptick in freedom, wealth and technological advantages, we are all burning out in record numbers. Experts connect this stress, anxiety and fatigue trifecta to increased levels of illness, divorce, crime, job changes, and losses, among other reasons.

In fact, 37% of adults state their stress level increased over the past year, with 63% admitting that stress from their job always, often or sometimes caused them to regularly engage in unhealthy behaviors.

As a Certified Gemstone and Diamond Practitioner, I genuinely believe there is hope. Change is possible, and the side effects of burnout can be reversed by getting to the root of the problem. One increasingly popular, effective and simple tool to help battle burnout is meditation. Meditation is an approach to training the mind – similar to the way that exercise is an approach to physically training the body.

The art of meditation can take many forms and offer an array of purposes. Traditionally, it has been used as a means to connect with spirituality – or to better grasp – deeper meaning and purpose. While many individuals still practice meditation with these goals, the practice has also grown immensely as a practical tool to alter thinking patterns, achieve balance and inner peace.

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A Wide Array of Health Benefits

Many people who practice meditation often elude to numerous benefits, including reduced stress, fewer chances of physical illness, increased levels of gratitude and an overall sense of calm and emotional well-being.

By practicing meditation on a regular basis, you learn to retrain their typical thought patterns in ways that sidestep dwelling on negative feelings like anxiety, unhappiness and more. During the process, emotions are recognized and then released, clearing up mental space for you to concentrate on the present and to focus on more positive feelings.

Additionally, meditation can lengthen your attention span. In fact, many experts suggest that mindfulness meditation (keep reading below to learn more about this specific technique) may help the brain to reduce distractions. In my opinion, training the mind to focus and concentrate is becoming more vital than ever in our 24/7 digital world where our attention is constantly being pulled in countless different directions at once.

Here are some variations of different meditation techniques:

  • Concentration meditation. A concentrative meditation technique entails focusing on a single point, whether it’s watching the breath, repeating a word or phrase, staring at a flame, listening to a repetitive sound and so on. Because focusing the mind is challenging, a first-time meditator might practice for just a few minutes and then gradually work up to longer sessions. With concentration meditation, you refocus your awareness on the chosen target every time you realize your mind is wandering. Instead of freely thinking random thoughts, you let them go. As a result, your ability to concentrate is enhanced over time.
  • Mindfulness meditation. This technique encourages you to concentrate on wandering thoughts as they drift in and out of your mind. The goal is not to get involved with the thoughts or to dwell on them, but merely to be aware of each aspect and issue as it surfaces. As part of the mindfulness meditation process, you can see how your thoughts and feelings move in specific patterns. Eventually, you can become more aware of the tendency to quickly judge experiences as “pleasant” or “unpleasant.” With more and more practice, you begin to develop an inner balance.
  • Other meditation techniques. There are many different forms of meditation. For instance, one daily Buddhist monk practice focuses entirely on cultivating compassion. There are also more active, energetic techniques, such as walking meditation, tai chi, and chi kung.
meditation-benefits-chart
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An Intro to Mindfulness Meditation

As noted above, mindfulness meditation is a popular technique that promises an array of health benefits, prioritizing conscious living. While no studies suggest that mindfulness meditation is neither a standalone treatment for disease nor the most essential ingredient for a healthy lifestyle, there are many ways it appears to benefit people both mentally and physically.

The basis of mindfulness is rather simple: avoid unconscious or mechanical activity, tune in to the present moment, and, most importantly, become entirely aware of your inner sensations and the world around you.

By practicing mindfulness meditation, the goal is to harness your innate capacity for self-awareness and attentiveness. Even taking a few minutes to stop what you are doing to bring attention to your body’s sensations, breathing and thought patterns actually qualifies as a key aspect of mindfulness.

So, what can it do for your body and your brain?

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Mindfulness meditation, according to health experts, may be able to improve brain function due to brain plasticity, or your brain’s ability to be changed over time. In fact, as many people tend to lose some of their cognitive flexibility and short-term memory as they age, mindfulness meditation may be able to slow cognitive decline, even in individuals with various forms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Mindfulness also can help reduce symptoms of depression or other mental health issues, boost activity in your immune system, prevent cellular aging and treat binge eating.

While the technique itself may seem simple, it truly takes commitment and the real “work” is making time daily to continue with it.

Here’s a glance at the process to get you started. Keep in mind, the technique itself is not time-consuming and can be done whenever it’s most convenient:

  1. Find a quiet area to sit that makes you feel calm.
  2. If you are just starting out, it can help to only meditate for approximately five to 10 minutes.
  3. Be aware of your body – sit in a chair with your feet on the floor or sit loosely in lotus posture, anything is acceptable. The key is to make sure you are in a position you can stay in for a few minutes.
  4. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out.
  5. Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of your breath and wander to other places. When you realize this is happening, simply return your attention to your breathing.
  6. Be kind to yourself and don’t judge or obsess over specific thoughts. The key is to ensure you always go back to the breathing.
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What Are You Waiting For?

One of the best parts of the ritual of any meditation technique is that it is extremely accessible. Meditation can be practiced any time, by anyone and in almost any place. By incorporating meditation into your life that is unique to your personal needs, you can benefit from reduced stress, improved mood, and overall enhanced health benefits.

If you find yourself still having a difficult time, Burn Bright Today is here to help. Contact me today to begin your journey as you learn how to spot the symptoms and triggers for burnout and how we can help reverse the problem.

Jennifer Marcenelle BSN, RN, HBC-HN
Jennifer Marcenelle is a board-certified and registered nurse with over 30 years of experience in the medical industry. She currently holds degrees in nursing and holistic healing, with a specialization in burnouts.

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