Breathing, Meditation, Relaxation
Meditation & Mindfulness
The Power of Meditation
Many caregivers find a meditation practice to be a powerful tool for dealing with stress. I know, I know…. you’re probably thinking, how can I take time to follow my breath when I have an endless list of things that need to be done! Well, it does seem counterintuitive, but taking time to focus on breathing and giving your brain a slower gear to be in, can help you feel more peaceful and better able to cope with all your challenges and demands. Spiritual teachers have been telling us this for years, and science validates it, too. So, if you’re interested in learning how to slow down your mind’s thought stream and reclaiming a feeling of peace and confidence, here’s a quick list on getting started.
Practice your mindfulness at the same time everyday. It will make it easier to drop into meditation. Unless you’re traveling, go to the same spot, too.
Keep It Short and Sweet.
All you need is five or ten minutes a day. SIt upright on the floor, or in a chair where your feet are on the ground. Then just focus on your breath.
Breathe in, Breathe out.
Inhale, exhale. It’s as simple as that. Time yourself. There are some nice apps out there that can help keep your time and give you a gentle signal when time’s up.
It’s Not A Contest.
We tell ourselves that it’s just not possible to shut off our thoughts. That’s not the point. While you’re following your breath, if you notice thoughts floating by, that’s normal. If you’re stuck in a thought stream or notice that you are chasing your thoughts, it’s ok. Tell your thoughts that you will deal with them, just not now. Now they need to quiet down so you can just breathe.
Just try it. Everyday.
Set your timer for every day for a week. Just 5-10 minutes. Of course you can go longer, but just see what happens. Studies show it can help manage stress, anxiety and fear as well as helping you cope.
Why not try it for the first week, while you are still in bed. Before you get up, right after you open your eyes, feel where your thoughts are going. The stream of things going through your mind have already prompted you to make decisions about how your day will unfold. That affects you throughout the day, so use these thoughts to your advantage. No doubt you have a lot to do, and it’s on your mind, but give yourself a few minutes to think mindfully about how you want to do things. Set your intentions, and ask yourself what you need to do to take care of yourself along the way and still be present as a caregiver.
3 Minute Breathing
We’ll divide this easy exercise into three sections, one per minute.
For the first minute, answer the question “How am I doing ? Right this minute?" Focus on how you feel, what you’re thinking and any sensations that might come up. If you can, give these words and phrases.
The second minute is focused on your breath. Just be aware of inhaling and exhaling.
The final minute is about how your body is reacting to your deliberate breathing. Feel the ways in which your breaths are affecting the rest of your body. Remember, Keeping a quiet mind can be challenging. When thoughts pop up, don’t try to block them, just let them flow into your meditative space, and let them go. Try to just observe them.
Don’t be in a hurry for results. Mindfulness exercises are like physical exercises. It will take time to see benefits. Be kind to yourself as you stay consistent and keep trying. Allow for flexibility between different techniques. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
VIDEO: Relax and destress with a guided meditation included in this webinar.