Mindfulness and Meditationby Lauren Deville on Jul. 13, 2012, under Natural Medicine Tips
This is going to be a different sort of article, because I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic. I’m still on this journey myself.
I’ve known of the benefits of meditation for some time – it’s emphasized in Mind-Body Medicine, for one, and there are a surprising number of studies that demonstrate its health benefits — just go to www.pubmed.com, type in meditation, and you’ll see what I mean.
I’m also always looking for stress reduction techniques that are easy to ease into and maintain, because an overwhelming number of my patients suffer from some degree of anxiety and/or depression. As a strong Christian myself, I often take an overtly spiritual approach to this for those patients who are open to it, but some are not, and I try to find ways to meet people where they’re at.
Still, I tend to first recommend those techniques that work for me. And I’m not terribly good at meditation in my personal life, simply because I have a hard time allowing myself to slow down. (For this reason I try to make a point of practicing yoga at least once a week, because I’m forced to keep pace with the rest of the class. It’s good for me, I know.)
Recently, though, I had an interesting conversation with a longtime friend who meditates for half an hour every day. She told me that since she started, she’s become aware of mundane details that previously escaped her notice – her breath, the way her body feels (or even particular parts of her body, like the muscles of her left shoulder), the plants outside, or the breeze across her skin. In other words, meditation has helped her to cultivate an attitude of mindfulness.
Apparently she’s not alone – even in the mainstream political arena, mindfulness is catching on as an excellent way to moderate stress.
So I decided to try it. I always introduce new practices to my patients in bite-sized chunks they can handle, so that they won’t feel overwhelmed and quit before they begin. I gave myself the same grace, and so I meditate (so far) for five minutes a day, while I wait for my coffee to steep in my french press. (Don’t judge me.) I count my breaths, up to eight and down again, and I allow thoughts to come and go as they may, without fighting them. As soon as I realize I’m having a thought, though, I gently redirect my thoughts back to my breath.
It’s only five minutes, but what I’ve noticed is the barrage of thoughts that constantly swirl in my head unacknowledged have at least those five minutes to surface and have their moment. It’s as though they’re all petulant children that only want to be given a bit of attention, and that alone is sufficient to calm them down. After that, I can go about my business more peacefully, as if I’m somehow just a bit less susceptible to all matters that aren’t immediately pressing.
It’s just five minutes a day. Worth a try, right?
Dr Lauren Deville is board-certified to practice Naturopathic Medicine. To receive her free e-book, “Ten Nutritional Supplements Everyone Should Have,” or to receive her monthly health and wellness newsletter, please sign up at www.drlaurendeville.com.