Coping with stress is never easy. Some of us can manage life’s curve balls better than others. Regardless, we all need to find our own ways to declutter our brains, especially when daily stresses start to pile up. Meditation has consistently been named by researchers as one of the most effective (and obviously natural) methods for reducing anxiety and stress. Health and wellness experts, as per this report from NBC News, have found meditation to be helpful in fostering resilience, improving attention, and mitigating aggressive tendencies.
Of course, for most of us a big issue is the lack of free time in our days; twenty-four hours is almost never enough to get through our daily to-do lists. So, how can you possible manage to find the time to meditate when the problem is not having enough time? Meditation specialists say that all we need is a quick, five minute meditation to improve our day; turn off the television or podcast a few minutes early, and there’s that little bit of time just for yourself. May is National Meditation Month and a great time to get into the practice of mindfulness and meditation.
Meditation has been referred to as a “state of thoughtless awareness.” It’s not about concentrating or exercising, but allowing yourself to be in the moment, to focus on your breathing, the way the air moves through your lungs, the rise and fall of your chest, and so on. It’s about taking time for yourself, prioritizing your own well-being. Meditation encourages practitioners to push aside thoughts and outside noises when their mind wanders. Ideally, the techniques learned through regular meditation can be used to self-soothe during tense times. For example: during a big test, right before a job interview, while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, [insert other stressful situations here].
I’ve tried meditation; like many other women I know, it feels nearly impossible to turn my brain off and stop thinking about one thing or another. But, in those rare moments when I have achieved the impossible and been truly calm–usually at the end of a yoga session–it’s been a great feeling. Meditation has no age limits. In fact, educators have been recommending and implementing mindfulness programs for students. A Canadian elementary school recently did away with detention and replaced it with meditation. Students are brought to the Mindful Moment Room, where there are lamps, oversized pillows, and bean bag chairs waiting for them. They’re taught deep breathing exercises to help combat their anxieties and anger. Guess what? No suspensions have been issued since the Mindful Moment Room was established. The benefits for children are no different than they are for adults, with the added bonus that young children can learn how to control their emotions early in life. The LPL will be offering Mindfulness Workshops for children entering grades 1, 2, and 3 in Fall 2017. The five workshops will be on the following Wednesdays: July 12, July 19, July 26, August 2, and August 9. Registration for the first workshop will be on Wednesday, June 28, and more information about these programs will be provided in the July/August newsletter.
There are some easy ways to get into the practice of meditation. Mindful.org has a list of mindfulness apps, as does Psychology Today. There’s an app for everything!
The LPL has some great books on meditation. Here’s a brief sampling, and you can search our catalog or ask a librarian about more options:
Meditation: An In-Depth Guide: Gawler, Ian
Meditation for Dummies: Bodian, Stephan
Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program: Salzberg, Sharon
Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World: Williams, Mark and Danny Penman
Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids: Stewart, Whitney
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Peaceful Piggy Meditation: MacLean, Kerry Lee
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To jumpstart your journey in meditation, enjoy this video provided by Dr. Shilagh Mirgain from the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. She talks listeners through a five-minute meditation. Personally, I found her voice soothing; I hope you do, too!