The Science of Health and Happiness
Every morning I spend some time tuning into my body. I have a notepad by my side with a pen to catch any epiphany or “a ha” moments that may arise during this “me” moment in my day.
As I sit on a comfortable armless chair I rest my hands on top of my thighs with my legs hip width apart, with my feet flat on the floor. I notice the ground under my feet, is it warm, cold, soft, hard, rough or smooth?
I concentrate on taking deep slow breaths – in and out. I first put my focus on to where I’m tight in the chest, if the breath is up high or if I am able to allow it down into my belly. Does it fill into my back or into the sides of my ribs? Is my throat tight, dry raspy…does a big breath make me feel like I want to cough? Is my nose blocked or does it pull in the fresh air around me with ease?
Many people tend to take short, weak breaths throughout the day, which deprives the blood of oxygen and, in turn, can lower energy levels.
What relaxes when I breathe deeply? Do my shoulders begin to let go, is my stomach suddenly gurgling from new found space, have I lost focus on my body and began thinking about what I have to do that day?
When thoughts come into my head I imagine them as little thought clouds hovering over my head. If it’s something I don’t want to forget I quickly jot it down on the note pad by my side and then close my eyes again to sink back into focusing on more of my bodily sensations. Is my back stiff, can I breath it into relaxation, can I feel my heart beating?
Once I have reached that calm and centred feeling I purposely think about something I’m grateful for, such as having this moment to meditate.
There has been an avalanche of research on the benefits of meditating. Studies show it produces a physiological reaction that dampens our stress responses. It can actually form new and permanent neural connections in the brain. "Change your thoughts, and you can change your brain" takes on new meaning when you understand it this way. Neuroscience research is showing that the practice can reduce anxiety levels by up to 22%. It's also shown that people who meditate regularly have different patterns of brain electricity, that could possibly lead to more efficient attention-paying and learning.
It can lower blood pressure, slow Alzheimer’s and curb tobacco cravings. It can reduce stress-induced inflammation from conditions such as arthritis and asthma and it can help to reduce the intensity of chronic pain conditions.
Your brain releases happy chemicals – serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, all linked to a good mood. It’s an easy go to stress reducer!
I love the fresh and clear minded feeling that carries out though out my day. It helps me to feel less overwhelmed when I have a busy day ahead of me and to have a bit of detachment when I find myself in a nerve-racking situation. It’s great to do in the parked car before going in for that dentist appointment or after I’ve had that stimulating client meeting or business presentation.
I believe meditation changes our bodies. You don’t need endless time to find your centre. A 5-minute routine in the morning gets the job done. Anyone can do it and the more consistent you are the easier it will become. It trains your mind to focus on the moment instead of worrying about what occurred in the past or what could happen in the future. More and more of us are looking for peace in our crazy-busy days. Meditation is about putting down your juggling balls for few moments and taking a mental pause.
If you do something different we'd love to here how you recover from your multi-tasking, techno invading, stormy brain making day. If you've been looking for something to help you manage our fast paced world try this 5 minute meditating brain break suggestion and tell us what you think.