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  • sarahgideonlpc

Meditation- it's literally all in your head

People are often curious how or why meditation works in relieving stress, decreasing depression and anxiety and increasing positive feelings. The answer can be seen physically in the brain. For people who dismiss meditation as quasi-voodoo it is important to note the science behind it. These are real, concrete effects that can be measured and analyzed. Meditation isn't always easy starting out, but the benefits of practicing daily are powerful, and far outweigh the negatives of perhaps feeling silly, frustrated or confused because you don't know what you are doing at first.

Honestly, there is no deep secret to being successful at meditation. You just have to try, again and again, until it gets easier. It is literally like learning any other skill, in that regard. I like to use this exercise for beginners: Sit in a quiet and calm place, with as few distractions as possible. Close your eyes and try to focus on only your breathing. The pace, where it is in your body, how shallow or deep the breaths are, how long you are breathing in and out, etc. When thoughts come in- let them. See the thought, as though it is floating above your head in the air. Acknowledge the thought, and then ask it to move on. See it floating out the door and continuing on its path. If the thought is stubborn and it wants to stay, then take some time to analyze why this thought is important to you at the moment. Notice how it makes you feel. Notice in your body- sensations and how your breathing may change. Is there tension? Anxiety? Notice these things and then tell yourself you will be allowed to return to this thought later...but not now. Even set a time in your head if you need to (after dinner) so that you know you will give yourself time to return to the thought and process. Then return your focus to your breathing and continue with the process. You can start with only a short session- like 2 minutes, and then increase it from there as you get more comfortable.

There are also helpful apps which can guide you through meditations if you prefer to have someone taking you through it. As you see below, the positive benefits are plentiful- from the reduction in cortisol levels (the stress hormone) to the increase of serotonin and dopamine production (happy/feel good chemicals). I look at it this way: If I told you there was a pill you could take that would do all of these things you most likely wouldn't hesitate to try why not extend that faith to practicing meditation? You really have nothing to lose. Unlike medications, there are no known-side effects! Hopefully you will be open to giving it a try, because I know that when you do there will be so many positive effects. Trust me. Or trust science. Whichever you prefer :)

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