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Meditation May Not Be What You Think

By Lisa Edwards

What Is Meditation Really?
Meditation is most commonly thought of as a process of relaxation and contemplation for spiritual purposes, or simply for becoming more in tune with your body. Actually, there are lots of reasons to meditate from emotional wellbeing, to very real benefits to your health.

Also, many people believe that by meditating you can achieve a greater sense of the universe, God, the divine, etc., or consciousness. It’s focus is mainly to quiet the mind.

There are just as many ways to meditate as there are reasons to meditate. Mindful meditation, for instance, can be done while walking, eating, or just about anything. The focus is being in the present, mindfully doing what ever it is you are doing, in the now.

For instance, let’s say you will practice mindful eating with a peach. You would focus your attention on the peach. How it feels, how it smells, how it tastes. The texture, the feeling of the juice in your mouth, the sweetness. It is a grounding experience in the present.

An Alternative To The Traditional Form Of Meditation
I bet you never considered coloring a form of meditation! Psychologists suggest that adult coloring is an alternative. Psychologist Antoni Martínez explains: “I recommend it as a relaxation technique. We can use it to enter a more creative, freer state. I recommend it in a quiet environment, even with chill music. Let the color and the lines flow.”

Coloring is known to relieve stress and tension. Carl Jung used to try to get his patients to color in mandalas at the turn of the last century, as a way of getting people to focus and allow the subconscious to let go.

If you don’t like to color, how about watching fish in an aquarium? Studies have demonstrated that aquariums help lower stress and blood pressure.

In fact, a study dating back to the 1980s discovered that watching fish in an aquarium can reduce blood pressure similar to what has been reported for relaxation therapy, biofeedback or transcendental meditation.

Another group found that people who gaze at fish and aquatic life for as little as 5 minutes can significantly decrease their anxiety and stress levels. There are even apps for your computer that you can buy that simulate fish in a tank right on your desktop.

I would add here that while practicing these alternatives to traditional meditation, you focus on your breathing. Most people do not breathe properly, and in fact are known as “shallow breathers”.

Stress and tension cause us to breathe more shallowly. Dr. Margaret Chesney, a breathing researcher at UC San Francisco, says breathing properly can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental focus and athletic performance, help control high blood pressure and mend other health problems.

Chesney and others point out that many of us have developed a habit of not breathing deeply enough, and unknowingly we hold our breath for short periods when under stress. Women are more prone to such “under-breathing,” Chesney says. Both of these unconscious practices can raise carbon dioxide levels in our blood, which over the long term can be harmful.

If you are a person who doesn’t like to sit still, yoga may be the answer to traditional meditation for you. Yoga can be done mindfully, which means again, focusing on the movements. How your body feels, and your breathing.

There are many other activities that you can incorporate meditation into, such as running, listening to music, going to a lake or beach and watching the water. The main thing is to clear your mind, focus on relaxing your body, and breathing. You don’t have to take overly deep breaths, just nice, full, regular breaths.

The benefits of meditation are many, and undisputed; and it doesn’t have to be for long periods of time. Even 10 minutes can help you feel more energized, yet relaxed. It can clear your mind and help you feel more centered and grounded. Why not give it a try in whatever way works for you!

Lisa Edwards runs Living Well for Success - a place of positive and encouraging information for all who strive to live the life they have always wanted.

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