Take the time to try Meditation: A few minutes a day can bring many benefits
Meditation has been around for thousands of years. It is an activity in which an individual takes time to reflect and to pause from everyday life. Some people meditate for a few minutes when they need it while others make it part of their daily routine. There are different types of meditations, such as guided meditation, where you listen to a person describing images and bringing your attention to bodily sensations and outside noises; mantra meditation, in which you repeat a specific mantra while calming your body and senses; and mindfulness meditation, which helps you focus on the present moment.
Meditation can be a great coping strategy and there are many benefits.
Short-term benefits: When you are stressed or your body is in a fight or flight mode (as when you experience anxiety), your sympathetic nervous system kicks in. Your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure increase, causing stress to the body. When you meditate, your sympathetic nervous system “deactivates” and you “activate” your parasympathetic system, which allows your body to calm down, decreasing your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. Meditation can help ease tense body muscles and unpleasant emotional states. It can bring a sense of peace and an awareness of the self that can be beneficial for calming your body.
Long-term benefits are observed in people who practice regular meditation. Studies have shown that regular meditation can help with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. It can also increase and improve attention and concentration. Additionally, meditation can allow you to regulate your emotional health and have a more positive outlook on life. Some studies have shown that it can help improve your quality of sleep.
Want to try meditation? Great! Here are a few helpful tips to get you started:
Be comfortable: Find a place where you can be free of distractions and can sit comfortably. If you do not feel comfortable, you will have difficulty benefiting from this exercise.
Breathe deeply: Make sure to take deep breaths when you meditate. This will allow for a good amount of oxygen to enter and relax your body.
Scan your body: By paying attention to the different parts of your body and what you are feeling in the present moment, you are able to center yourself and calm your mind.
Repeat a mantra: This can be a word, a sentence, or even a particular sound you make. It
can help you focus on something if your mind tends to wander elsewhere.
Be patient with yourself: Meditation is not a miracle cure. It might not work the first time, and even if it does, you might not see the benefits right away. They will come in time. Remember to be consistent, and be kind to yourself. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again later. It gets easier with practice.
Did you know that AMI-Quebec offers meditation workshops for family caregivers? Visit amiquebec.org/meditation for details.
– Gabrielle Lesage
Visit amiquebec.org/sources for references
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