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Shannon M. Duffy, MFT, LCPC

Meditation has soared past being the just the latest trend. Research has been presenting the benefits for years and most practitioners in the fields of health and wellness are noting the importance of what finding more calm can do for your lifestyle. However, I still notice the hesitation within my therapeutic practice of those individuals who are unsure of what meditation entails and if they can even attempt to find calm within their chaotic lives.

Meditation is focusing and achieving the concept of mindfulness. They go hand in hand towards the purpose to train your attention and awareness to achieve a mentally clear, emotionally calm, and stable state. The goal is to focus and control your breathing to enhance the flow of constructive thoughts and positive emotions. Ideally you are wanting to create careful observation and awareness of one’s own mind towards inner peace. When full awareness is present then it is easier to return to the breath to control when your mind starts to wander off.

The best way to start is to address what the individual’s perception of what meditation can do for them and start with basics to find success. Some individuals appreciate the origins from Buddhism however, there does not need to be a religious affiliation for the benefits. Ideally to just simplify the practice to fit your needs and wants and into your daily routine. This can start with basic breathing exercises from counting the breaths you take in and counting the same number of breaths you exhale out. Once you feel your breathing is regulated and finding the comfort in steady breathing, adding in mantras or positive self-talk with the inhales and exhales. Starting with a simplified version is helpful towards understanding how comfortable you are in calming your mind and creating more focus. Guided meditations can aide in following along with a meditation focused on areas such as anxiety, sleep, and inner peace. The most popular versions would be utilizing the application programs of Calm, Headspace, and Mindworks or attending an in person guided meditation class.

The hesitation that I hear from clients is that they feel as though it is not working for them right away or that it may create more doubt and confusion of emotions. That can be frustrating at the start and a sign to note the importance of utilizing the basic skills for stress management and recharge to simply give yourself a break from your mind. Knowing all the benefits can also create more motivation to keep trying to find the best version of what meditation can look like for you in your routine.

The overall physiological and neurological advantages of meditation is to calm the amygdala to control the cortisol hormone and the flight or fight reactions. This is achieved through our utilizing the Automatic nervous system which incorporates your breathing. We are wanting our sympathetic nervous system which is more flight or fight to stay managed and heighten our parasympathetic nervous system that slows down to find a calmer place. In addition, meditation can aide in pain management, digestion, injury recovery, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, adrenal gland consistency, and improve the immune system.

Therapy is promoting meditation to aide in providing emotional and behavioral help to combat stress. By focusing on moment-by-moment experiences, meditators are training the mind to remain calm. The benefits help to calm anxiety and worrying regarding uncertainty of future and catastrophizing. Similarly, to manage anger, impulse control, improve sleep, increasing focus and memory, and overall improve relationships.

We have become accustomed to wanting to multitask and always be a step ahead which can bring on anxiety. Staying more present minded can create a more mindful approach to accomplishing tasks and in turn feel more accomplished. Why not give it a try to see if finding your inner calm can benefit your life overall.

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