We’re all guilty of rushing through the day, juggling appointments and worrying about what’s coming next. But research has shown that simply taking time to be present in the now, or being mindful, has great health benefits. These include reduced stress, increased blood flow and a sense of calm and balance.
Dr. Christopher Smith, the Integrative Medicine specialist at UCF Health, recommends some type of meditation to all his patients. “Now more than ever before, people are noticing the benefits of meditation,” says Dr. Smith. “In this digital age, we are always so connected to other people, and we need to be sure to take time to connect to ourselves.”
In the past few years, mediation and mindfulness have extended beyond the yoga mat and been embraced by many. This is largely due to dispelling myths around what meditation really is.
What is Mindfulness?
– Those images we have in our minds of sitting on floor cushions for long lengths of time, chanting and the likes are not the only form of meditation. It is more about being present with a thankful heart for the moment.
– Anyone can do it. The very purpose of mindfulness is to be present in the now. You don’t have to push out all thoughts, just be aware of them as they come and go without judgment and try to return your focus to your natural breathing.
– You can meditate anywhere. You don’t need to sit in a quiet room with your eyes closed – you don’t even need to sit! Try mediating during a walk, exercise, or even while enjoying a meal. Be in tune to the different sensations your body is experiencing. As thoughts come, acknowledge them as “thinking” and try to return your focus to your breath.
– You don’t need to dedicate hours of your week to mediation. If two or three minutes a day feels good, go with that! Dedicate whatever length of time it takes you to feel at ease.
– Don’t multitask. Activities like watching TV or surfing the Internet can prevent opportunities to be more mindful. Eliminating distractions and focusing on your body and breath is mindfulness.
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