Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meditate Today

Any debate about whether or not meditation is good for your health is long over.  Meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.  People who meditate report experiencing reduced pain and improved health in general.  Often, when people think of meditation, they're intimidated by the thought of sitting in lotus position for hours at a time, chanting their way to enlightenment.  But meditation needn't be difficult, nor should it be.  Yes, it takes practice to quiet the constant chatter of your mind, but as with many things, it comes naturally with patience and commitment.   

There are many meditation methods to help your mind relax.  Guided meditation is especially good when you are beginning because it gives an active mind something on which to focus.  The following is a very simple meditation that I use regularly with my patients.  It can be used upon waking, in the middle of the day while seated in a chair, or in bed before going to sleep.  Patients with insomnia report much improvement when practicing this before bed.  

First, sit or lie comfortably.  Take a few moments to listen to your breath as you breathe naturally. Feel your lungs fill with air, then allow your body to relax with each exhalation.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, humans are viewed as living "between heaven and earth;" we receive energy from the heavens above, while remaining rooted in the earth below.  There is an energetic entry point on the crown of your head, and two points on the bottoms of your feet.  With your next inhalation, imagine a healing white light entering the top of your head, traveling the length of your body, picking up any pain, illness, or negative feelings along the way.  With your exhalation, move that white light down through the bottoms of your feet, releasing anything you no longer need nor want.  Continue with each inhalation and exhalation.  

Aim for about five minutes the first time you practice, and work your way up to twenty or thirty minutes, once or twice a day.   This meditation is very relaxing.  If you practice before bed, you may find that you spontaneously fall asleep.  That's o.k.  Try it during the day as well.   As your practice grows, you won't need to guide your thoughts during meditation in order to let your mind, and stress, go.  Enjoy the expansive feeling of bliss and well-being!