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  • Writer's pictureNicole Hutchison

Meditation: It may not be what you think it is.

Pause for just a moment to consider your own personal beliefs about meditation. Where do you believe meditation originated? What do you believe it is, and how does one practice meditation? Is meditation difficult? Is there a "right" or "wrong" way to meditate? Does meditation have to do with religion? What are the benefits of meditation?

I find that many people are unsure about what meditation really is, and feel intimidated to even try it as they're afraid they won't be able to do it "right." Other common misbeliefs include, "I could never clear my mind like that" or "I don't have time." Some are concerned it is a type of religious practice, and therefore against their faith or beliefs.

Meditation has been practiced by cultures all over the world for thousands of years. There are many forms of meditation, and most major religions have incorporated one or more forms of meditative practice. Meditation does not have to be sitting like a pretzel atop a mountaintop all alone, with your fingers positioned just so and your mind empty for hours on end. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to meditate. Regardless of the form of meditative practice, science supports the positive benefits of meditation on our health and wellness mind, body and spirit. Leave behind any false beliefs or preconceived thoughts you have about meditation, and approach learning more about this ancient practice with an open mind.

Learn to meditate. As I mentioned before, there are many forms of meditative practice. At its core meditation can be very simply described as gaining awareness in the present moment, without judgement. As the mind becomes distracted or wanders (as it undoubtedly will), gently redirecting it back to the present moment. Depending on you and your learning style, there are many resources available to learn more about meditation. Books, websites, podcasts, courses and apps are all easy to access. Begin exploring meditation using the resources at the end of this article. The Insight Timer is a popular app.

Benefits of meditation. Whatever your age and whatever your goals, in practicing meditation regularly you will experience health benefits mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Some of the benefits may include:

  • lower stress and anxiety

  • lower blood pressure

  • reduce symptoms of depression

  • improve sleep

  • boost the immune system

  • improve mood

Meditation challenge. We all have 10,080 minutes each week. Lets subtract a generous 8 hours a night for sleep and 40 hours a week for work. That leaves us with 4,320 minutes each week. How are you spending your 4,320 minutes? I would like to challenge you to practice meditation for just 5 minutes a day for one week. That's only 35 minutes total. Notice if you feel differently through your days. You may want to journal about your experience.

For more information and guidance in learning to meditate, click here. Notice I refer to meditation as a practice. Learning meditation is not a quick and easy, beginning to end is a lifelong endeavor. Let go of any pressure you're putting on yourself, judgement or self-criticism. Allow yourself to find joy in the journey and experience the many health benefits of meditation as an ongoing self-care practice.

~Nicole Hutchison, PT, CSCS, Holistic Health & Integrative Nutrition Coach


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