May is the month to feel good
Mindfulness and Meditation
This month, we are observing two different but related things: National Meditation Month and National Mental Health Awareness Month.
May is both, and we want to point that out for a couple of reasons. First, meditation is proven to enhance mental health and decrease stress and anxiety. Second, after the year we’ve all just lived through and the fact that we’re not 100 percent able to gather with family and friends the way we want to, anything we can do to improve our mental health and increase our sense of calm is a bonus.
Most people don’t meditate. Some people who do are very serious about it and block off a chunk of their day for it. We’re looking for something in the middle. Meditation has a lot of health benefits, whether you become an expert or not.
The mental health benefits of meditation include improved focus and concentration, self-awareness and self-esteem and lower levels of stress and anxiety. Other health benefits include:
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved blood circulation
- Lower heart rate
- Less perspiration
- Slower respiratory rate
- Lower blood cortisol levels
- More feelings of well-being
- Deeper relaxation
You don’t need any special knowledge, equipment or facilities to meditate. Here are some easy steps to try:
Sit or lie down and get comfortable.
Close your eyes. If you have one, an eye mask or eye pillow will help if you’re lying down.
Breathe naturally. Don’t try to control your breath.
Now turn your attention to your breath: notice how your belly rises and falls with each breath. Pay attention to small movements in your body as the breath moves through you.
Your mind will wander. That’s OK - completely normal. When you notice that happening, just turn your attention back to your breath moving in and out.
Do this for two or three minutes. If you feel rejuvenated and relaxed after you’re done, try it for slightly longer periods.
If you want to try meditation with a little more guidance, here’s an easy 5-minute meditation to follow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inpok4MKVLM
This month, try meditating a couple times and see how it affects your mindset. If you enjoy it, keep doing it! If not, do whatever does make you happy and feeling content.