With depression and anxiety rampantly on the rise, efforts to find the most effective solution are vigorously being researched. Talk therapy, and medication like anti-depressants to name a few, but sadly enough they don’t work on everyone and never in the same capacity. Benjamin Shapero, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School states that there is a greater need to explore alternative therapies.
Practicing Mindfulness and meditation is a soaring topic in this regard. A Harvard study suggests that sitting in for merely 15 mins of meditation practice of clearing your mind can alter how your genes operate and even lower blood pressure as a result.
Meditation is known to clear the mind which in turn enhances focus and concentration. A WebMD article states that practicing mindfulness meditation can help people suffering from ADHD.
Meditation classes for beginners can be as simple as joining a virtual group for online meditation classes. While there are a myriad of live online meditation classes; it’s always nice to approach it with an experienced guide and teacher. Live sessions always have the space for questions and clarifications which is essential to provide when just starting.
When teaching yoga therapy for anxiety disorders often jumping straight into meditation can be overwhelming. Starting with gentle yoga practices of simple slow steady movements like a cat-cow stretch, raising your arms as you breathe in and resting them down on the exhale, together with easy breathing practices help cultivate the skill of awareness. Meditation doesn’t always need to be done sitting upright and forcing yourself to feel discomfort and restlessness. If there is too much effort involved, if you find yourself fighting a great internal battle while sitting for meditation – only so much good can come from it. There are means by which this restlessness can be harnessed, brought to a calmer state, and only then start to observe the practice of focused and concentrated awareness on any one thing/visual.
In yoga, we often start with moving and working the body (asana) – bringing awareness to tangible parts. We then move to a subtler experience of regulating the breath (pranayama) – still rather tangible. Both these practices can be taught, corrected, and made more/less challenging. After a few rounds of regulation, we encourage the practitioner to observe the breath – an even more subtle practice, less tangible, can be guided but not corrected. At this point, we are starting to redirect our sensory experiences more inwards (pratyahara), to the experience of inside your body rather than outside.
From here we can start to encourage the practitioner to bring this observation and awareness to one fixed point – moving from a fluid relaxed awareness to a fixed concentration. This is the beginning of getting into a meditative state, and you can start to see how challenging this might be for a lot of us.
Consistently practicing any of the above is helpful. Start with what feels most comfortable to you and make your way in either direction.
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