Friday, July 6, 2012

A Little OM: Meditation to Calm the Madness

The average American is exposed to over 3,000 advertising messages a day. That's scary, especially living in New York City where you literally hop in a cab and find yourself sitting in front of a TV screen. YIKES!To make matters worse, most of us are addicted to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and truly believe that our lives are over when we leave the house without our cell phones (Yes, I am including myself in these generalizations...don't worry!).
Try as we might, it's very hard to disconnect from our environment. We're taught, especially in America, that time is money and there's so little time! So we go into work early, stay late, answer our phones at all hours of the night, miss those important family events - all because we have no idea how to disconnect.
There IS an answer! Wait for it... wait for it...

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Wait, did I lose you? You're not into that type of thing? It's too spiritual? You don't have time for such nonsense? OK. OK. I get it, but you'll be hard pressed to convince me that you can't take just 10 minutes out of the day to nurture yourself. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. You can spare a few! Meditation is a great way to silence the madness, and you'll be shocked to see how much it does for you physically, emotionally and spiritually!

Here are 10 reasons you should give it a try, followed by suggestions for getting started...
  • Meditation lowers your blood pressure and can help reduce your dependence on medication. - Put the pills down, pill-popper!
  • Meditation has a calming effect. Because it reduces your blood lactate levels, you are less likely to experience an anxiety attack. - Ah, freak out! Le freak, c'est chic!
  • Mediation decreases muscle tension and muscle pain. It's especially helpful for athletes and those recovering from an operation. - Surgery, schmurgery.
  • Meditation helps to relieve headaches and the symptoms of PMS. - Ladies, your significant other will thank you!
  • Meditation increases the production of serotonin, the 'happy hormone'. - You'll be as happy as a hippie in a mud puddle at Bonnaroo!
  • Meditation increases your 'natural-killer cell' activity. Killer cells fight off cancer and other unwanted bacteria in the body. - Killer cells... so much more helpful than killer bees or killer sharks!
  • Meditation helps your lungs use oxygen more efficiently. - Rid yourself of the dreaded Duncan Sheik-syndrome!
  • Meditation helps you sleep better. - Nighty night, world!
  • Meditation increases your concentration and strengthens your mind. - It's like an instant Harvard degree! Well, not really...but you get the point!
  • Meditation improves your memory and your capacity to learn. - Somebody will want to take you to trivia with them!

If you'd like to give it a try, start with 10 minutes a day, broken into the following...

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MORNING (5 minutes): When your alarm goes off, don't just hop right out of bed. Take 5 minutes to set the tone for the day. Lie in bed on your back with your hand on your stomach. Take deep breaths in and out for 5 minutes, concentrating on the rise and fall of your stomach. Your mind will inevitably start to wander and that's ok. Just try to stay focused on those deep breaths. When the 5 minutes is up, you'll feel more refreshed as you enter your day.

AFTERNOON (2 minutes): Obviously, your work situation may not be conducive to taking a 'breather', but this is a great time to take a moment for yourself if you can. Mid-afternoon tends to be the time when you hit a wall and feel your energy waning. Instead of going on a coffee run, find a chair, sit in it and rest your hands lightly on your knees. Just like before, take deep breaths in and out for 2 minutes, concentrating on your breathing alone. If you can't do this at work, just add the 2 minutes to your bedtime routine.

NIGHT (3 minutes): I don't know about you, but when I lay down for bed, my mind is always racing. I can't turn it off, and it keeps me awake. Try lying down and spelling the word 'SLEEP' out loud. On the exhale, recite 'S', on the inhale, recite 'L'... you get the idea. Before you know it, you'll be fast asleep.

See? Meditation doesn't have to be all 'Eat, Pray, Love'. You can do what works for you and you'll notice that even 10 minutes makes a huge difference in the way you feel!

Who wants to get all ZEN with me?

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