Thursday, May 30, 2013

Meditation for Real Life

Does the word “meditation” call to mind the image of sitting quietly cross-legged for hours? If you’ve ever thought, “I can’t do that—I’m not a calm person,” you’re not alone. But in fact, anyone can practice meditation, and you don’t have to do it for hours a day to reap the many mind and body benefits.

“What people don’t always get about a meditation exercise is that it really just involves taking control of your attention,” says David Harp, author of Mindfulness to Go: How to Meditate While You’re on the Move. “You have what I like to call mental muscle: the ability to control your thoughts.”

Just like a physical workout, mental exercise can help train your brain to behave a specific way in certain situations. That discipline can override the “fight-or-flight” response our bodies typically have to stress. It’s no surprise, then, that research has shown that people who meditate regularly have lower blood pressure and possibly even stronger immune systems.

Once you’ve made a habit of meditating, it will become easier to call on a feeling of calm when you need it. “Some people decide it’s not practical for their lives because they’re so busy, but meditation teaches you to handle all the different things that are coming at you without getting flustered,” says David Dillard-Wright, author of Meditation for Multitaskers: Your Guide to Finding the Peace Between the Pings. “It’s an empowering feeling even if you don’t have an ‘I feel in touch with the universe’ sense of bliss.”

Here are some mini meditations you can do when you need a moment of peace.

Be Mindful During Mindless Tasks

During the course of a day, you likely do multiple tasks that don’t require your full attention, from brushing your teeth to preparing a simple meal you’ve made countless times.