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Does Meditation Really Work? - Your Guide to Mindfulness

Wellness

As many people juggle school, family troubles, global issues, and other issues in their life, they begin to feel an emotional strain that can result from very demanding circumstances. There are multiple ways to deal with stress, such as regular exercise, a stable diet, and connecting with supportive people. One method that is researched to lower stress the most is meditation. Meditating means that you are focusing your mind for a certain period of time in a relaxing and comfortable place. Meditation works by focusing your attention to result in a more enhanced emotional and physical well-being.

The Science

Before diving into the basics of meditation and achieving a mindful state, it's important and interesting to get a grasp on the scientific aspects of mindfulness and the affect it has on your body, both physically and emotionally. Mindfulness is linked to a change in the brain and the production of hormones that affect physical health. This can switch self and body awareness (thoughts, emotions, and sensory details). Researchers have noticed that people who are practicing mindfulness are more likely to react calmly and thoughtfully in stressful situations. These reactions happen when your brain induces the relaxation response which then triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming yourself down by lowering your heart rate, muscle tension, and blood pressure.

Techniques

It is important when starting to practice mindfulness to understand the different techniques that can help lower your stress and how they affect you. Mindfulness exercises that are more hands-on are correlated to your brain and emotional wellbeing. One technique is journaling. This can be more or less appealing to a specific person. Journaling is very helpful for keeping you at the moment as well as reflecting on how you feel, and what is most important to you. If you don't enjoy writing, you can also do a variety of physical exercises, such as stretching and doing a body scan. It is helpful to see how your body feels at that very moment. You can also practice mindfulness during the day if you're in a public or crowded area and are starting to feel anxious, stressed, or just want a reset. Practicing mindful breathing is easy to do without calling attention to yourself. The most well-known form of mindfulness is meditation. Meditation can also be the hardest to practice because it uses all of your senses and feelings. In order to apply meditation, you want a calm setting where you feel the safest and most comfortable. Meditation includes watching your breath, reciting affirmations, stretching yourself physically, and much more. You can always find more information online and through groups on how to incorporate meditation into your daily routine (always find reliable and helpful resources).

Starting Off

The next big question is how do you start putting mindfulness into a routine, and how you practice it. When starting mindfulness, it starts small. For example, reminding yourself to breathe before a rest, or before bed, in order to reduce stress. Once you feel ready, you can begin to add daily journaling, yoga, or meditation. Starting small can help ease the body into the changes you are about to make mentally and physically, it can also help feel a greater sense of accomplishment when you achieve your goal or add on a new concept to your mindfulness routine. If you struggle with reminding yourself to meditate, or you don't want to do it alone, you can always invest in classes that focus on aspects of mindfulness, or you can follow YouTube videos and tutorials, as well as a variety of apps that can guide you through mindfulness practices. (My favorite app is Headspace which focuses on meditation).

Remember that you may not always have the motivation to journal, do yoga, or meditate and that this is not a problem. Just remember why you started practicing mindfulness in the first place and continue doing what makes you comfortable.

Sisi Gray
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Sisi attends highschool in Colorado as a freshman. She enjoys volunteering at her local botanic gardens, shopping, and playing the flute.