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MEDITATION SERVICE: THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

MEDITATION SERVICE: THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Millions of people the world over live a stressful life, especially in the United States. With the hectic pace and many challenges faced in our world today, most of us feel stressed and tired. Time is often too short to complete everything in a single day, and we often feel unhappy and depressed whenever we fail to accomplish what we originally set out to do. Most of the time, we are so busy that we hardly make the time to meditate or balance out our centre.

If you are looking to live a healthier life, then you should consider meditation.

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It helps calm your nerves, overcome stress, and increase your concentration. With meditation, we can transform our mind from unhappy to happy. One of the best ways of developing a successful meditation habit is by finding the perfect kind of meditation that works best for you. In order to know the right fit, visit a professional who can help choose the one that feels the most comfortable.

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Why Learn to Meditate

The benefits of meditation cannot be over emphasized. When practiced daily, you will feel more balanced, active, and positive- even in the most difficult of times! The reason why most people meditate is to help make their mind calmer and more peaceful. Once our mind is relaxed, we can focus, as well as mentally stabilize our intentions to execute our daily goals. Having control over our mind is one of the most difficult things to do. Our mind is always influenced by external circumstances. We become excited when things are rosy, but if things go bad, we feel irritated. By practicing meditation regularly, we are able to control our mindset regardless of the external circumstances.

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How to Meditate

Meditation helps improve health, sleep, and can make you feel happier. Mediation helps us discover who we truly are. However, when trying to incorporate meditation, many people find it difficult to control their thoughts in the initial process. The following are some simple tips on how to help you meditate efficiently:

  • Your sitting posture determines the effectiveness of the meditation on the body. Make sure you sit upright with your head up as this will help you stay focused.
  • Keep your eyes open with a soft gaze so you don’t get lost in thought. This tip will also help you feel more present.
  • Keep your breath as natural as possible. Do not try to regulate it.
  • If your mind is still troubled, you can resort to counting your breath from one to four as you inhale and exhale. This will help you gain concentration.
  • If you are struggling with emotions, do not try to stop them. Just focus your attention on your breath, body, and feelings.
  • Keep calm and steady throughout your meditation. Focus your gaze on a small inanimate object, for example, you may use a lit candle placed in front of you.
  • After meditating, reflect on the experience in a journal.

Benefits of Meditation

A good number of scientific research has shown that meditation offers some powerful holistic health benefits. Meditation is one of the best ways to combat stress and living a healthy lifestyle; you will have better control over your thoughts, and help yourself find inner peace. Meditation is also recommended for those who are looking to improve all aspects of their life. Some of the major benefits of meditation include the following:

  • Reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Improvement in abilities to stay focused
  • Help in getting you quality sleep
  • An aid to efficient critical thinking
  • A remedy to breaking unhealthy habits
  • Encouragement towards a healthier lifestyle
  • A boost for the grey matter in various parts of your brain

Featured photo credit: Meditation by Moyan Brenn via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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