Healthy Mind lives in Healthy Body
Being young and fit is beautiful, being healthy according to doctors and tests is amazing, but you cannot be truly healthy without a healthy mind-set. Positive thinking is the key to health and happiness. Nothing can make you happy, healthy and free until you let go of all the worry and negativity you have inside.
Thinking positively isn’t easy. It doesn’t come to you as soon as you want. It is something you have to learn, and most likely there will be no one to teach you along the way.
During the last couple of weeks that I spent at home, sick with a flu, I thought a lot of what makes us happy and healthy. Apart from the flu, I am quite healthy. My recent blood work came back normal and even good, much better than I’ve ever had during my omnivore years. And I seem to have almost everything I need for happiness, maybe except a job and my parents living closer to us. When it comes to realising who I am and what I am, I really don’t have much to complain about. Yet I complain a lot. Maybe it’s just a habit, but in this case I want to get rid of this habit. Maybe it’s just the lack of positive thinking, despite my attempts to see only positive things around me. And I really do try hard.
So, having given a lot of thought, I decided to change a few things in my life, learn to look at it from a new point of view, a clearer and a brighter one. I am trying to come up with a plan of learning new things and developing a new attitude to become a happier person. It is not complete yet, although I know my first couple of steps, and I will gladly share them with you.
My first step I’ve done today. The first step is daily meditation.
Why meditate? Well, we’ve all heard that meditation helps relieve and manage stress and anxiety. While it is completely true, this is not the only benefit of meditation. Every day our mind is overflown with thoughts of different kinds, thousands and thousands of thoughts coming from our subconscious that we simply cannot acknowledge because we are too busy with everyday tasks and worries. Meditation here is like a short movie session – you just sit on your own in a quiet and watch your thoughts pass you by. It is the time when you acknowledge your thoughts, you get to know what you really think about from day to day, you get to know you. And back to stress management, meditation is not only good at calming when in stressful situation, it is also great for preventing stress breakouts. Imagine your mind as a pot with soil (for a plant) and daily stress as water being poured onto it little by little. If you don’t do anything to stop the water, eventually it will overflow. If you stop for a moment and wait – the water will get absorbed, and you can turn it on again.
Okay, maybe not a great example with water and soil. But meditation is like de-cluttering your mind, it is an important step when you need to clear your mind and your soul as well.
How to meditate? The process of meditation is easy, it just looks complicated because often we do not know what it is about. Common mistake is to think that during meditation you must shut your mind closed, lock out everything that surrounds you as well as lock out your thoughts. You mind must be blank. – That is a misconception. The idea of meditation is to acknowledge your thoughts and surroundings while concentrating on your breathing. It is not hard at all if you know what to do.
- What to do? Find a comfortable place, preferably in a quiet surrounding. Sit in a comfortable pose. The most common pose is crossing your legs in front of you, with your back straight, and place your hands on your knees. It doesn’t matter if the palms face down or up, as long as it is comfortable to you. You shouldn’t feel the urge to change something up every minute. Generally, it is advised to sit on a cushion, so your knees touch the ground – this way you are more grounded, but it is not necessary. Once you’ve found your comfort zone, close your eyes, take a deep breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat three times – it will help you set your mind in the right direction. Next you just concentrate on each inhalation and exhalation. You may count it to 10, then start over. It helps beginners to do it right. Breathing should be natural, the way you usually breathe.
- How long? It doesn’t need to be long that you can’t stand it. Only 5 minutes will go a long way. And if you like it enough that you want more, you can add another 5 minutes at some other point during the day.
- What if my mind wanders off? This is perfectly natural. You can’t just block your thoughts, lock them in a cupboard and have a paper-blank mind, you are human, you live, you breathe, you think. But the only thing you should be concentrating is your breathing. If you catch yourself thinking of something, acknowledge the thought and let it go. There will be many of them, and they are there to help you get to know you.
- Do I need any special props? No. Meditation is something that you can practice anywhere no matter what. But if you’re only starting out, there are a couple of things that might help you. These are a simple timer or alarm to let you know when your time is done. Do not set it for long stretches of time, or it will be hard for you to stick to it. You can increase the time as you progress. The second helpful thing is relaxing music or sounds. You can find plenty of relaxation CDs and tracks, there loads of relaxation videos on YouTube. The most helpful though are apps for your smartphone, considering that many of them have a timer. My favourite app is Relax Melodies Oriental Meditation. It has some very beautiful oriental tunes as well as nature sounds.
If you want to try meditating, just go on and try. Even if you don’t get the point of it at first, see if you can at least stick to it for as long as 5 minutes a day, in the morning or before bed, or maybe at lunch break. Even if it is not love at first sight, it might later still become the love of your life. Meditation is a practice that has long-term benefits, it takes time to master and it takes time to see the results.
That’s it for the first step. I will write about my second step in a short while.
Wishing you all health and happiness!