I have been reading, Doing Less and Having More: Five Easy Steps for Achieving Your Dreams by Marcia Wieder, and I was going to write this month’s article on the “10 Steps to Greater Ease” that she talks about, but the funny thing is that her first step was on “Focusing” and when she goes into how to focus there is way too much information to cover all ten steps. So to slow it all down I am going to just do the first step- since I have to practice it too.
Focusing – focus is all about how you are looking at life and how you choose to react to any given thing that comes your way. It is about knowing where you are and figuring out where you want to be and then making the necessary plans to get where you want to be. When you are able to stay in focus you will have the energy needed to reach your goals. The problem is how to stop being distracted by all the things around you that pull your focus away from your goals.
There are some skills you may need to learn to be able to have the clear sight you need to stay in focus. Focus produces results, so how does one manage to be at the point where everything comes together? How does one become less scattered and have the clear sight necessary to reach the goals we have set out?
There are 4 skills that can be developed to help with better focus. They are: meditation, contemplation, breath work and goal setting. Here again I am only going to cover the first skill of meditation and we will tackle the rest later. I have been learning why meditation is so beneficial. According to the Huffington Post, there are numerous benefits such as:
- Meditation reduces stress.
- It improves concentration.
- It encourages a healthy lifestyle.
- The practice increases self-awareness.
- It increases happiness.
- Meditation increases acceptance.
- It slows aging.
- The practice benefits cardiovascular and immune health.
Meditation – the practice of sitting, closing your eyes and breathing deeply until you are able to get rid of all the rambling, disconnected thoughts, even the concentrated thoughts and reach the stage where you have the absence of thought. It is only when our minds are still, quiet, empty and relaxed that our crazy busy mind gets still and relaxes and then our body can relax.
Our minds are like an engine that is always running – it needs downtime for servicing and repair. Meditation can refresh your mind and provide the needed recharge for your battery. Meditation is a vacation for your mind. Meditation helps you be able to stop being at the mercy of your reactions and helps you deal with reality no matter what comes your way. Meditation can also help you gain more patience and compassion – not only for others but for yourself as well. We can be so hard on others, but often even harder on ourselves. The calmness gained by meditation helps with a person’s creativity and even their generosity.
According to medical research, the practice of meditation can slow your heart rate, relieve pressure and stress and even slow down the aging process. Meditation helps people take charge of their own nervous systems and their emotions. It helps you become more comfortable in your own skin.
Apparently, the brain signaling on the left side of the prefrontal cortex increases in people who meditate. This is the area responsible for positive emotions. Subsequently, the activity on the right side decreases and that is the area of the brain responsible for negative emotions. I think I need to start meditation immediately. I know how much I struggle with staying positive. There is a saying that if a person is told one negative statement about themselves that it will take at least six positive statements to override that one negative statement. I know from personal experience that this is so true. Why is it easier to believe the negative people say about us and even the negative things we think about ourselves than to have self-compassion?
In the article from Huffington Post it stated that meditation leads to relaxation and this relaxation causes the body to increase the compound nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes the blood vessels to open up and this in turn causes blood pressure to drop.
Personally I know that stress is really hard on the body. I did not get an extension on a term job that had been promised. The stress level in my life increased dramatically and just one month after this occurred I went for my yearly cholesterol check and my bad cholesterol level had risen drastically. The doctor asked what had happened and when I told him he said he wasn’t going to adjust the medication I was on – he just said go and relax and be good to yourself so the stress goes down. By my next appointment everything was back to normal.
The more I learn about meditation, the more I believe we need to learn to relax. Marcia Wieder gives a simple meditation technique to help us newbies get started and it is a breathing technique. Breathing is the simplest and quickest way to relax. Breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. After three or four breaths, tell your body to relax. As the tension begins to drain away continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth till you are breathing normally. As thoughts enter your mind do not follow them but let them drift by like a cloud so you do not activate your brain. When you notice you have followed a thought just re-concentrate on your breathing and begin again. Gradually you will get better at it and will notice there will be times where there are spaces between your thoughts where there is nothing – this is where peace and quietness reside. This is where you find calmness and this calmness can spread into the rest of your life. Practice this for 20-30 minutes each day.
Of course, there are places where you can go to learn meditation and it can be really helpful to tap into these resources but at least learn deep breathing techniques so you can help yourself focus and stay centered and calm. Don’t give up – you can do whatever you set your mind on!