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Meditation is not only for Buddhist monks. These days women from all walks of life are using meditation to de-stress and enhance their lives. Wellness coach Tamra Mercieca looks at some simple, yet effective ways to work meditation into your hectic lifestyle.
Meditation practices have until now, been designed primarily for the celibate monk, living in isolation from the rest of the community. Given that people living in the 21st century have careers, bills to pay and relationships to nurture, it makes sense that meditation practices would need to be adapted.
So leave behind the excuse: “I’m too busy to meditate”, as you don’t need to spend lengthy chucks of time sitting on a hillside, to reap the many benefits of meditation. No matter how busy you are, there are plenty of ways to adopt meditation techniques that will improve your quality of life.
Meditation, essentially, involves withdrawing from the distractions of the external world to explore the inner world of the mind, bodily sensations and feelings. When a person meditates, alpha waves are created in the brain, which promotes a sense of calm by relaxing the entire nervous system.
Meditation is very much a mind focusing technique, teaching us to become more mindful. It is not only about breathing or sitting in the full lotus posture, but doing things and actually noticing that you are doing them. Most of the time we are on auto-pilot – doing things out of habit or routine. Often, when you do one task, you are already thinking about doing the next one.
Being mindful brings you into the present, so you can be aware of what is happening moment by moment. It is a means of developing our ability to disengage from any mental clutter, thus clearing the mind. Having a calm mind allows you to respond rather than react to situations, which improves decision-making.
When we engage our basic senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste, we enter the extraordinary world of our sensuality; our sensorium. “Stress levels are dramatically reduced when we come back to focus on the moment, particularly when it is something we love, right here, right now.”
“I suggest to clients to do the following: When you sit down to drink your coffee or tea, notice the shape, weight and temperature of your cup against the skin of your fingers and hands. Smell the aroma wafting from your cup, let it enter your nostrils as you breathe in the richness of the moment. Slowly take a sip and let the liquid swirl inside of your mouth and, eventually swallow. Savour the experience,' Mercieca says.
Or try these simple exercises and notice the difference:
Sit in front of a clock or watch that you can use to time the passing of one minute. Your task is to focus your entire attention on your breathing, and nothing else for the entire minute. Once you have mastered this, try doing two minutes, then five, and notice the sense of calm you experience afterwards.
Mindful eating exercise:
Sit at a table and eat your meal without engaging in any other activities – no television, no music and no talking. Eat your meal paying full attention to which piece of food you select, how it looks, how it smells, how you cut it, even the muscles you use to raise it to your mouth. Enjoy the texture and taste of the food as you chew it slowly.
Mindful shower exercise:
When you’re in the shower, allow yourself to become aware of the water against your skin, the temperature, the water pressure, the fragrance and texture of the soap or shower gel against the contours of your skin. When you towel dry yourself, notice the sensations against your skin. And do the same when applying lotion.
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Tamra Mercieca writes a weekly column for BayFM.com.au on health, lifestyle and balance. Her articles have been published in various health publications such as The Daily Telegraph/Herald Sun’s Body and Soul and Women’s Health and Fitness magazine. She also pens a coaching column in Nature and Health Magazine called ‘Ask Tamra’ and the Getting Naked column in Femme Fatale magazine.
You can read her full profile here.