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Living on Long Island is stressful. If we didn’t invent the phrase “get out of my way, I’ve got things to do,” we certainly own it now. And that can lead to some really high levels of depression, anxiety, and overall tension, not to mention the stress on our bodies.
Johns Hopkins University And The Sages Of Tibet
Luckily, there’s some good news. A recent meta-study from Johns Hopkins University confirms what the sages in Tibet have always known: meditation reduces symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression.
The study found that “people who did mindfulness meditation had a five to ten percent improvement in anxiety symptoms and ten to twenty percent improvement in depression symptoms over people who participated in other activities.”
And the best part of meditation, for those of us who suffer from, well…anything from an anxiety over spiders to severe back pain? No side effects. No mind-numbing drugs for pain or depression, only a simple “sitting” exercise.
Mindfulness Meditation Benefits
Mindfulness meditation, which the researchers focused on, involves the following sequence:
- Allowing each thought to enter our mind, and then ...
- Gently letting it go.
This is slightly different from other forms of meditation that focus on a mantra (a phrase or word, repeated over and over) or a symbol or picture (like a candle or a rose). Anecdotal evidence would prove that these, too, have great benefits, but modern science hasn’t given its full blessing just yet.
Whatever way we choose, though, we all know that meditation can help us. So why don’t we all do it?
Why Don't We All Meditate?
Like anything else, great intentions are put into motion, perhaps after the New Year, or even after reading this article. But then, invariably, we find a million excuses, such as:
- I don’t have time.
- My mornings are too stressful.
- The kids won’t leave me alone …”
Yet often, somehow, some way, we still manage to find time for our favorite television shows.
Why Sometimes We May Be Afraid Of Meditation
With meditation, there are perhaps even more excuses, such as:
- Sometimes a fear of what meditation will uncover, or even ...
- The concern that the meditation is not being done “correctly,” can cause the initial enthusiasm to falter.
Of course it’s hard to change habits, and we need to honor that and give ourselves only gentle encouragement to change. We can, though, use some of the following to help us along
Techniques To Help Us Change
Using The Awesome Simple Power Of Little By little
Start off for a much smaller time than anyone recommends. Like five minutes. Really! Every day. Mornings are usually easier, but whatever time works for you is great; some people even find their best time is lunch, when everyone else is distracted. Find a special place. Most important is that you won’t be disturbed; it can even be a car.
Now you may be thinking, yeah, but five minutes?! That’s not going to help me. That’s not even doing anything. But here’s the trick … it’s five minutes more than you were doing yesterday.
Five minutes more than doing nothing at all. Five minutes to help your body and mind heal. And you can’t make any excuses – it’s only five minutes, and we ALL have five minutes. You’re reading this article, right?
Start with five minutes, and work up to twenty over the span of a few weeks, or whatever feels comfortable for you. If you spend six months at five minutes, that’s a great habit formed, and it’s still over fifteen hours of healing!
Create Personal Accountability For Ourselves
Making yourself accountable helps with new habits. Do you have a friend, a spouse, someone whom you can trust with your desire to meditate every day?
Let them know that you intend to do this every day, and then ask them to follow up with you at a specific time every day and ask if you’ve achieved your goal.
This works best if they, too, have a new habit. And then you get the added benefit of helping someone else during your day!
Hire A Professional
Can you learn to meditate on your own? Sure. It’s just a bit easier if someone is there to guide you through the process.
There is no “right” or “wrong” in meditation, but when thoughts arise (and they will) it is helpful to have someone to discuss them with afterwards.
A therapist is especially beneficial if you’re struggling with, or have struggled with trauma, abuse, anxiety or depression.
Sometimes the images and emotions that arise from a meditation session are not easy to work through on your own. This should not dissuade you. It is just an indication that there are things in everyone’s past which block our healing today.
Meditation can unlock a wondrous world of benefits. It allows us to notice our bodies, notice the emotions and feelings that arise, and simply let them go. When we get outside of our minds and allow ourselves to really feel, we become more aware of everything around us.
With some simple ways to introduce meditation into your routine, it can bring back that “old you.” You remember—that happy, pain-free person you were before?
Try This Five-Minute Exercise For Emotional Healing
Then evaluate if you feel better afterwards:
- Find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed.
- Write down these simple sentences, and then keep them near you:
- I know that my healing is possible through me.
- My body contains infinite intelligence, and knows what it needs to heal at this moment.
- My body is already working to heal, even if I don’t notice a physical manifestation of it immediately.
- Positive emotion is an indication that my body is already beginning to heal.
- Lie down and close your eyes. Breathe slowly.
- On each inhalation, picture a white light spreading from your heart throughout your body. Picture its soft light providing warmth and healing to each part of you.
- Then, on each exhalation, let go of all spent energy.
- After a few minutes of breathing, simply rest in the white light and bask in the wondrous feelings, knowing that you have infinite wisdom in every cell of your body. Love, healing, and light are always available to you.
Additional Resources: (not affiliated with Nassua Guidance and Counseling):
- Free Guided Meditations.
- How to meditate mindfully.
- Also try any one of the free guided meditations on iTunes.
Adapted from The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent.