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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Resting your mind is as important as resting your body

Anxious?
Keyed up?
Highly strung?
A worrier?
Panicky?
Always 'on the go'?
Apprehensive?

I am starting to understand that these feelings underlie most health problems.  When I speak to a new client, and we discuss what kind of symptoms are bothering them, it nearly always turns out that they would describe themselves as 'a worrier', or sometimes people are very aware that generalised anxiety is a part of their daily life. Or often a stressful job is cited as the cause of daily anguish.


And because I believe that you can never truly be well when you are worrying or stressed most of the time, I usually recommend some kind of meditation or quiet time to my clients.  In my opinion, having some time to rest your mind is as important as having a sleep to rest your body.  Resting the mind is not just a case of lying on the sofa and having a break (although this can be important), it involves making a conscious decision to focus your mind on something in particular (or more experienced meditators can clear their thoughts completely and focus on nothing).  After all, you can be lying on the sofa resting, but if your mind is thinking about something that you should be doing, or something you should've done, or something that you're dreading doing tomorrow, then your mind is not at rest and you can still be stressed.  And most people overlook this valuable 'mind rest', which means their minds can be constantly whirring away during waking hours.

Even if you are not obviously stressed, just being permanently busy is reason enough to find some regular quiet time to calm your mind.

Even the orthodox medical community are understanding the benefits of meditation for health, and research has shown that it can help to lower blood pressure, improve mood and energy, and reduce stress.

The idea of meditation may be very unattractive to some people, conjuring up visions of chanting hippies in kaftans.  But the fact is that meditation comes in many forms, and it is easy enough to find something that suits you.

Here are some of my suggestions for things you can try to rest your mind:

- Have you ever tried a session in a floatation tank?  Floatation gives you a chance to get away from ALL distractions, which helps your mind to quieten more quickly.  Floating is a bit like 'turbo meditation'!  In London, you can have a float session at Floatworks in London Bridge.

- Listening to a guided meditation track is a good way to meditate because it helps your mind to stay focused. And you can do it anywhere as long as you have your headphones and ipod with you.  My favourite CD is 'Guided Meditations for Busy People'.  The tracks are 4-10 minutes each, which is ideal if you can only spare a small amount of time.  For longer meditations, try 'Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness and Love'.

- Why not investigate local meditation groups?  Some people find it easier doing things in groups, and the meditation will be lead by a teacher, so it's easier than going solo.

- There are a wealth of books available for those new to meditation.  I don't recommend any one in particular, but if you are keen on doing it by yourself, then have a look on Amazon and pick a book that seems to suit your needs.

- Outdoor meditation is great.  You can do it whilst you are walking, or just being somewhere outdoors in nature.  If you walk whilst meditating, you need to be aware of every sensation you feel (the feeling of your feet touching the ground etc) and everything you can see and hear, and focus on these sensations only.  I'm not an expert though, and a quick search for 'walking meditations' will give you much more information than I can.

- Doing yoga or other slow stretching exercise can be meditative if you focus on your body and what you are doing.  If you are new to yoga and don't fancy going to a class, I recommend the DVD 'Yoga For Beginners'; it has lots of routines which last from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, so you can mix and match the routines to fit the time you have.




Anyway, don't forget to have fun and let me know how you get on.




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