In recent years, mind-body practices like yoga, mindfulness, and meditation have skyrocketed in popularity. Like yoga, meditation’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years not only in popular culture but in the scientific community as well. More research is being done on “mindfulness” psychology, particularly “positive psychology,” or the psychology of happiness.
Seems like the cure for being plugged-in but checked-out all the time might be to unplug and quietly check-in more often--meditation and mindfulness to the rescue.
Some practices can be used for spiritual purposes, while others focus solely on the breath and sensations of the body. Some benefits include increased memory capacity, increased focus, lower stress levels, alleviating anxiety and depression, increasing mood, reducing pain perception, reducing insomnia, and more. More research is being done, but some researchers have found that regular meditative practice can even affect your DNA!
Here’s a super-quick how-to:
Mindfulness is the practice of paying mindful attention to everyday tasks, and the goal is to stay fully present. This can include focusing-in on the sensations of driving (where it’s easy to shift into mental auto-pilot) checking-in with your mind, your body (taking a load off the road-rage we all might experience), or paying mindful attention to eating our meals and savoring each bite. Mindfulness, like meditation, is about tuning-in to the present moment and simply noticing your body and surroundings with attentive focus. Mindfulness is the act of tuning in while you’re living your life.
Meditation is considered more formal, often done sitting and with the eyes closed. There are different types of meditation including zazen, Zen meditation, Transcendental Meditation (often called TM), qigong, guided meditation, and much more. Meditation styles vary in their focus or intention. The focus might be on an image, a sound, on the feeling of loving-kindness, or on your body and its sensations and breathing.
You can adapt your meditation however it best serves you and it doesn’t have to be super fancy or very long. Meditation is simple enough to do at any point of your day and for however long. At its most basic, meditation is sitting with the eyes closed or with a soft gaze while focusing solely on the sensation of the breath, letting all other thoughts pass. Even for practiced minds, everyday thoughts can intrude: this week’s grocery list might float in, a song that replays in the mind, or something unpleasant that happened at work. When these thoughts of the “monkey mind” or “beginner’s mind” come in, rather than judging the thoughts or beating yourself up over it, the best practice is to notice the thought, let it pass rather than following or dwelling on it, and return to focusing on the breath. It takes practice, but it can be done.
Stress manifests itself in a myriad of negative effects on the body. Regular meditation and mindfulness practice can greatly reduce those negative effects and go hand in hand with chiropractic adjustments and massage therapies. Chiropractic concerns itself with helping your nervous system communicate at its best with your entire body. Chiropractic can alleviate stress manifesting in the body and reducing stress can help the adjustments work wonders. Sometimes DCs or LMTs recommend meditating before an adjustment or massage so that your mind and body are relaxed and can reap the most benefits from the adjustment or massage therapy. Ask your chiropractor or massage therapist if you want some more ideas or guidance in meditation and mindfulness!
Body in Balance Chiropractic Vancouver, WA
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