Your body is a healing machine. Despite your current age, health, weight, and stress level, your body wants to replace bad cells with healthy cells. This is one of its primary jobs.
Most people make choices that don’t support their best health goals. These include eating so-called “comfort foods” loaded with sugar and fat, drinking, smoking, and/or watching hours of TV. Focusing your mind on a place of calm lowers stress and reduces harmful cravings.
Stress causes hormone imbalances in the body. Those imbalances lead to weight gain. Maintaining a healthy weight lowers stress and hormone imbalances. Lower stress has a positive effect on your body and mind.
If you can only do one thing to reduce your stress level, the evidence presented in the literature points to meditation being that one thing. Focused mindfulness or meditation has powerful health benefits including: reducing blood pressure, lowering cortisol, leveling blood sugar, improving mental health, and providing an enhanced sense of well-being. The Headspace smartphone app provides an easy-to-use guided mediation.
A quick guide on how to meditate:
1. Sit in a comfortable position. (Avoid a position where you might fall asleep.)
- The back is long and supports itself
- Shoulder are relaxed downward, the neck is long, and the chin is pointing neither up nor down
- The face is relaxed
2. Begin to breathe (preferably through the nostrils). Feel the belly rise, the ribs expand, and the slight movement in the collarbones and shoulders as the breath moves upward. Feel the exhalation.
3. Focus on one aspect of the breath.
- The movement of air in and out of the nostrils, or
- The lifting and falling of the belly
4. Continue focusing on that one aspect of the breath.
- When the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath
- Do this as many times as you need
- There is no such thing as a good or bad meditation
5. Start with 5-10 minutes. Increase the time until you can sit for 30 minutes.
Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated. Taking just a few minutes each day to pause and calm the mind can make a huge difference.