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Enrich Your Life: Learn How to Meditate

Enrich Your Life: Learn How to Meditate

Meditation has been a part of my life for a couple of years, and it is now safe to say that there has been visible progress in both my productivity and relaxation. I’ve tried my best to make it a daily habit as I feel that is the only way for anyone to experience all of the benefits.

The benefits of meditation are quite extensive. Although it is most commonly perceived as a relaxation technique, in my experience that is only a very lovable plus. The benefits, being numerous, range from reducing high blood pressure and relieving symptoms of depression and similar mental illnesses to alleviating pain and even increasing creativity and overall sharpness.

Before I started practicing meditation, somehow I instinctively knew that it would be good for me, but I didn’t really understand how deep it could go until I did it myself. I am not a religious man by nature, nor did I have a guru or a spiritual leader, I just liked the idea of being alone with my thoughts and emotions. Truthfully, once you get the hang of it, you will learn more about yourself than ever before.

What do you need to meditate?

meditation-what-do-you-need

    One of the perks of meditating is that it requires few to no accessories, but there are certain prerequisites you need to keep in mind.

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    Time

    Clear your schedule for meditation. It doesn’t require a lot of time, but you should devote a certain part of the day where you are going to fit the time for meditation. It is important to distinguish this in such a manner that you are aware that the time is especially there for you.

    Noiseless space

    There is quite a lot of meditation music on the market, but I have concluded that nothing beats the powerful sound of silence. I believe there is something awe-inspiring in silence and that our minds and ears have grown overly accustomed to noise, so it feels really great to treat them with silence once in a while.

    Something to sit on

    It is true that meditation does not require sitting, but it is by far the easiest way to achieve calmness. I would recommend beginners to use a chair because it will help them keep their backs straight, but once you have passed that, a meditating cushion is a perfect choice.

    Timer

    The timer is basically the only physical thing you need to meditate, but even a timer is not essential. Individual meditations are timed to prevent you from rushing it, so a timer is mostly recommended for beginners. If you want to, you can buy a purpose timer for meditation, but I simply use the one on my smartphone.

    Before you start meditating

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    meditation-exercise

      Over the years, I have developed an appropriate ritual before the actual meditating that helps to get into that state of mind. It isn’t always easy, especially if your mind is troubled, but I feel that this ritual has become equally as important for me.

      Exercises

      Lightweight exercises, regular stretching, or, most preferably, yoga exercises are the best in keeping your muscles relaxed and your blood circulating. I believe I have never missed a warm-up and stretch before meditating as it gives me that finely tuned edge.

      Get rid of distractions

      Meditation is all about uniting with your inner self, so you might imagine that having a phone buzzing amidst it all is a bit of a nuisance. I devote a quiet little place in the corner of the room with every non-essential appliance in my house turned off while I am meditating.

      Don’t overthink it

      Clearing your mind sounds like an overly used phrase, but it is kind of a prerequisite. When I started meditating, I had the problem of not being able to focus because I was constantly thinking about every little thing.

      Feel free to focus on simply relaxing for the first few meditation sessions as the journey part will come naturally after a few times. Clearing your mind can seem hard at the beginning, but that’s the trick — when you master it, you’ll start gaining the benefits of meditation.

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      Meditation

      meditation

        As you have probably thus far concluded, there are only a few rules set in stone when it comes to meditation. The point is to have some alone time with the person that is buried beneath all those layers of work-related problems and daily tasks — the real you. Keeping that in mind, there are a few tips that are going to help you achieve that level of thought.

        Breathing

        Taking deep breaths beforehand is recommended as it will help you relax and set the right mood for meditation. However, during the meditation you shouldn’t give too much attention to breathing; just try to do it normally. You can use the deep breathing technique in those moments when you feel like you’ve lost the momentum simply to bring back the right rhythm.

        Sitting position

        It is a common misconception that you have to sit in a particular way in order to meditate. The truth is that any position will work as long as it feels comfortable. The famous Lotus position is frequently connected with meditation, but it is not exclusive. Keep your back straight, your arms relaxed, and your eyes closed — meditation comes from your mind, not your body.

        Length

        When I started meditating daily, I had the time and patience to meditate for five minutes at best. It is not necessarily a bad thing since any time spent meditating is better than none. Not only is it difficult to envision one sitting for hours like a monk, but it is also not necessary. I truly noticed results (increased overall energy and productivity) when I started meditating for around 25 minutes each day.

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        Focus on the goal

        meditation-focus

          The purpose of any meditation is to clear your mind and assert your presence by distancing yourself from the material world that surrounds you. Spoken in plain English, the goal is to create a habit of taming your own thoughts and emotions.

          Sometimes you’ll get bored, at times you’ll even be frustrated, and that is alright, just don’t get discouraged. As it is with any exercise, mastering meditation takes time and commitment, just have in mind that you are doing it for yourself.

          Meditation can and will enrich your life and is one of the best weapons in our mind’s arsenal for fighting everyday modern stress.

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          Dejan Kvrgic

          Blogger, Writer

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          Last Updated on September 10, 2018

          Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

          Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

          We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

          Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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          Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

          Looking at images of loved ones

          While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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          In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

          Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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          Exercise

          Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

          Meditation

          Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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          In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

          When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

          With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

          Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

          Reference

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