Meditation: It’s Not Just About Sitting Still

Meditation isn’t about sitting cross legged and staring off into space. At our health spa we use it as a tool to help drop the body into a state of deep rest or calm allowing for self repair, alignment of hormone levels and balance of metabolic state. Blood pressure normalizes, adrenal glands produce less cortisol and the immune system functions better. The mind clears and creativity increases.

As a follow up to the post Cortisol: The Stress Hormone I want to offer some tips on the different kinds of meditation you can practice. If you recall, Cortisol is created when our unconscious deems it necessary to fight, fly or freeze for survival. It’s also a hormone whose production increases aging in our bodies. By interrupting our stress and inducing periods of relaxation, we can prevent the harmful effects of cortisol and gain from it’s benefits.

Here are some helpful examples of ways to meditate:

Focused Meditation: concentrate on an object or sound. Even the rhythm of your own breath. Stay conscious in the present moment, while letting the steady stream of thoughts in your mind fall away, creating space of a state of empty mind.

Activity Oriented Meditation: great for those who have a hard time sitting still. By engaging in a repetitive activity (like hiking)  we get into a “zone” of movement and feel a state of “flow” that is uninterrupted by conscious thought. It allows for one to be in the present, in our body, with the mind focused, rather than interrupted with thoughts of past or future doings.

Spiritual Meditation: though not specific to any one religion, meditation has been used for Millennia as a space to receive guidance. By focusing on a question once the mind is quiet, we can receive inner guidance or access our own true wisdom. Some practitioners believe that prayer is speaking to God, or the Divine, while meditation is listening.

No matter which technique, know that repetition brings ease and improvements just like weight lifting. A good way to begin, is to think of yourself as the observer of your thoughts, and notice what the narrative voice in your head says without engaging in the content. As thoughts materialize (which they naturally do all the time), do your best to let them go and come back to concentrating, focusing, or witnessing. Meditation is like taking your mind to the gym. The benefits to health are increased vitality, reduced stress levels and peace of mind.