When was the last time you sat still?
I mean completely still — not watching television, not listening to the radio, not doing dishes, not driving, not reading, but absolutely nothing. Not even thinking. Just you, yourself and you in complete silence.
Meditation, self-contemplation, whatever you want to call it is not just for spiritual or religious practitioners, but can be great for all of us.
Sitting still and just focusing on your breath for five to 15 minutes a day has had many reported benefits, including the obvious stress reduction, but in clinical settings has been shown to reduce blood pressure and even aid in weight loss.
A study from the Department of Psychology at Indiana State University investigated the effectiveness of a meditation-based intervention for people struggling with Binge Eating Disorder.
They worked with 18 obese women for a period of six weeks implementing mindful meditation exercises.
After the six weeks, reported binges decreased from 4.02 times per week to 1.57 following treatment.
These women had better control over their eating and developed a stronger awareness of when they were actually hungry. They also reported levels of depression and anxiety decreased as well.
I personally like to think of meditation as just a time to breathe through your crap.
A time to sit down and focus on letting go of the stuff that doesn’t really matter and just self reflect, de-stress, unwind . . . or chillax!
We all complain too much about how much we have on our minds — well why not take a little time to focus on letting it go?
Sure it might seem difficult at first. There’s the “I get bored”. “I can’t sit still”. “I can’t turn off my mind!”
This is common to most people who try to start a practice. Trust me. . . . it gets easier. With a bit of daily discipline (even five minutes) you’ll find it easier within a week. And the benefits could just be worth it.
A daily meditative practice is associated with greater happiness, or enlightenment in Buddhist traditions. It allows you to reflect on your life and develop a heightened awareness of yourself.
Are you doing what you want to be doing? Are you moving in the direction that is best for you in your life? Maybe we could be taking better care of our bodies or improving the lives of others in some way.
Taking that few minutes a day will help you to stay centered and focus on the things that really matter.
And what really matters is that you try to maintain a state of inner peace.
Because this is what will help you have greater clarity with your decisions, allow you to have better relationships with others and yourself and just, well, be at peace.
And you don’t have to run off to an Ashram or run away from your life to find it.
If you sit still, you will find it inside you. So over the next few weeks, don’t be afraid to find your space to breathe.
“Peace . . . it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. . . .” — Unknown
Kristin Fraser, BSc, is a registered holistic nutritionist and local freelance writer. Her column appears every second Wednesday. She can be reached at email@example.com.