Article by Rachel O’Conner
Healing your body—and other aspects of your whole self—with your mind is a symbiotic relationship. In wellness, remember that you are a holistic machine. The mind can do many things, and meditation can help with anxiety, depression, and a host of ailments. Your brain does an excellent job of making what you think come true. It wants to be right. That’s why cognitive reconditioning is so important: if you believe in xyz, your brain will do everything possible to make it a reality. Healing your body—and other aspects of your whole self—with your mind is a symbiotic relationship. In wellness, remember that you are a holistic machine. The mind can do many things, and meditation can help with anxiety, depression, and a host of ailments. Your brain does an excellent job of making what you think come true. It wants to be right. That’s why cognitive reconditioning is so important: if you believe in xyz, your brain will do everything possible to make it a reality. But does utilizing the power of the brain require meditation? Not necessarily, but it can be a helpful tool.
A lot of people have misconceptions about what meditation is. They may have tried it, perhaps in a yoga class, and thought it wasn’t for them. Meditation is a way of centering the mind and dismissing distractions. It’s a time when you can pursue stillness and possibly quietness. Meditation doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to a certain religion or practice—although it sometimes is. You can adopt a meditation practice that resonates with you to suit your needs.If you’re interested in starting a meditation practice, here are a few ideas to get started:
1. Try different approaches and see what works. There are numerous guides and suggestions for meditation practices. No single approach is “right.” Experiment with options like walking meditation or try taking a class. If you try out enough options, you’ll find one that works for you.
2. Understand and accept that it will be uncomfortable. There are reasons most people walk out of a yoga class early during savasana. Sitting and being left with your own thoughts can be scary. It allows the brain to wander and think—that’s good in some regards. A meditation practice, unlike daydreaming, encourages those thoughts to be then dismissed.
3. Don’t set goals. Goals, whether it’s to help heal from trauma or to “sit silently for five minutes” aren’t part of meditation. You can have ideas of what you’d like to achieve, but goal-setting simply doesn’t align with the nature of meditation. Challenge yourself and seek out what you like, but leave the self-competition behind.
4. Focus on the positive. Most people who meditate require some kind of object or mantra to consider in order to keep their brains from delving into other thoughts. However, make sure that direction is positive. Whether it’s thinking about an object that has positive connotations for you or a mantra that is soothing, this should be at the heart of your practice. This is where healing begins.
5. Ignore any negative feedback. It’s natural to harbor negative thoughts when struggling with meditation. Thoughts like, “I can’t do this” are going to kickstart your brain into proving yourself right. Be kind to yourself, preferably always, but especially when you meditate.
6. Think of the body as one system. Stop thinking about working on mental or spiritual or physical health when using meditation as a tool. If you’re working on one aspect of health, you’re working on all of it. Your body is a whole, but we tend to think in parts because that makes things easier for us to understand. Some meditation practices encourage you to “scan” the body, but if this is in your practice, try to think of the body as one unit. Whether you are loyal to the chakras or another method, you’re not thinking of parts as a separate, but parts are equaling a whole.
7. Set realistic guidelines. Can you go from no meditation to meditating for 30 minutes every day? Probably not, at least not if you want to stick with it. Having guidelines is fine, but make sure they’re achievable. Otherwise, quitting will surely occur and you’ll beat yourself up.
8. Listen to your intuition. Whether it’s about a meditation practice that isn’t for you or your brain telling you it needs a day off, gut instincts are always right. Listen to them. It’s part of a healthy mind and this will snowball into an overall healthy habit.
As you explore the world of meditation, bear in mind that its thousands of years old for a reason. It’s a long-standing tradition to help nudge you towards better overall health, but it’s centered around the mind. Our brains are immensely powerful, and we don’t utilize them to their full capacity. What would happen if we could? And what if we consciously worked towards bettering our mental health in the process? The options are endless and this might be your ticket to better overall wellness.
Rachel is a freelance content writer located in San Diego, California. Over the course of her career, she has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga. Find her on her Twitter to see more of her work!