My life is fairly stressful. And that’s no surprise to the majority of Australians (or the global community) who share an increasing rate of anxiety, worry, or stress over ever-increasing job and family demands, financial difficulties, carer duties or simply the incessant traffic grind each morning.
However, what I’ve noticed has added to my little bag of stress of late is the stress of not de-stressing. We all hear about the benefits of meditation and its incredible impact on our mental, emotional and physical health and wellbeing. Meditation courses are advertised in every lifestyle mag we open and blog we read and we understand how disciplining the mind via meditation training techniques can greatly improve our mental state. But while I ‘know’ all this, do I actually practice meditation? The honest answer is not nearly enough.
Reason? I’m too busy, I don’t have the time, I get bored, I can’t do it ‘right’, I’d rather zone out in front of the telly … and those little excuses are actually stressing me out even more than the original stress! The thing is, I want to meditate. I want to be like all those blissful, calm glowy people who actually DO get up 20 minutes early to start their day with a resonant OM.
So, after doing a little research on the useful of meditation, meditation clinics and potential meditation training courses in Sydney, I’m back with a keener-than-ever desire to revamp my inner-calm.
The following comes from an article posted in the New York Times by Sindya Bhanoo:
“Researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in grey-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.”
“M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased grey matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of grey matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes.”
In another 2009 study, meditation was found to reduce blood pressure in those with coronary heart disease and the impact of meditation allowed for longer attention spans than non-meditators (imagine how useful this would be for children!)
So how can we train ourselves in meditation? For a start, you can create your very own meditation clinic (and no, I’m not crazy.) Your meditation clinic is just for you. It opens in 5-minute intervals at any time of the day or night (you’re very accommodating like that.) Whenever you feel your shackles rise, or your blood pressure starting to boil, open shop. Enter into your own private meditation clinic in your mind and breathe. Become conscious of your own breathing. Is it fast or slow? Shallow or deep? Just become conscious of that small, yet essential practice of breathing. There. You’ve just practiced meditation.
This is part of a meditation training technique called ‘Mindfulness Meditation’. The idea is to focus on different objects, such as breathing or the tip of your nose or focusing in on a particular body sensation. By doing so, you stop your mind from wandering and continually bring it back to the present.
This is one simple practice to get you started, or back into, a regular practice of meditation. No more feeling guilty (more stress!) about not meditating. Just start with 5 minutes a day. Even I can commit to 5 minutes a day.
Wanting to dive a little deeper and really glean the health benefits of meditation? Want to aim for that 30 minutes a day to actually start changing brain chemistry in an incredibly positive way? Then meditation courses may be the way to go. There are some great meditation training clinics and courses in Sydney and Awareness Institute in Crows Nest, Sydney, offer a number of meditation courses to suit everyone.
Awareness Institute’s meditation training courses start from private, one-on-one coaching via their meditation clinic, through to weekly meditation classes, right up to a Transformative Meditation Facilitator’s Certificate, a Meditation Mastery program for advanced meditators and continuing education workshops for meditation facilitators and teachers in meditation as therapy.
The key to this meditation business is simply to make the decision to start and to make a commitment to incorporate it as a regular daily practice. The chance to improve my memory, my heart health, my stress levels and my ability to be a kinder, more empathetic individual? I think it’s worth a shot.