Before we start this article, I'd like to invite you to join me in a meditation group I am going to be leading. Here is a link to the flyer, and to sign up for notifications about the group (inclement weather, location changes, etc.)-
NOTICE: My meditation geoup is on hold until I can find a less crowded, warmer venue. Sign up for notifications about the new info once it happens:
Meditation is an incredible tool!
Thousands of research articles have been published showing evidence that it:
There are many ways to meditate:
The important thing is to find those practices that appeal to you. Those that you will actually do once a day, or be able to put to use easily. You might need to pick some that are longer, and others that you can do in the bathroom at work after working with a problematic customer or coworker. The style doesn't matter so much as doing some form of meditation at least once a day.
Let's distinguish meditation from exercise & prayer. The main distinction are found in the purpose of each activity...
The focal purpose of exercise is to build strength in the physical body. Exercise can be rigorous, or it can be slow and purposeful. Whichever exercise you do, it is generally to improve some purely physical function. Stick with me, because I know there are people who are saying to themselves right now, "but what about yoga, or even hiking, or..."
The focal purpose of prayer is to verbally talk to your higher power about what is going on in your life. It is a conversation tool. In conversations there is not much repetition- it is more of a story-telling or question-asking time. Think about conversations you have with friends. Prayer is your side of the conversation.
In some spiritual practices, meditation is when you stop talking to your higher power, and begin to quietly listen. It is your higher power's side of the conversation. However, meditation does not need to be associated with any religion or form of spirituality. In fact, it can simply be a way to quiet the mind, and let all of the outside "stuff" fall away.
This is where some kinds of exercise can be used as meditation. Here, it is the intention that is key. For instance, if you are going through your taichi form, because you can't stop thinking about that one news headline, and you use taichi in order to refocus your thoughts on only the movements of the form-- this is now meditation. When you go into your taichi form in order to increase balance, or build long muscle fibers-- that's exercise.
The reason it is important to implement a daily meditation practice is first, repetition creates instinct. If you get into a stressful situation, and you have been practicing a meditation technique, you will easily be able to go straight into the meditation, and diffuse the stress. It is much more challenging to try and "find that one app you used that one time..." etc.
I would love to hear about the meditation tools that help you, and in a general way, why you enjoy them?
If you don't have a practice, please join me on Sunday mornings for a 30 minute meditation practice. I will be guiding you through a visualization technique that will help you balance your heart and mind. You can easily use it in your daily life to calm your response to difficult situations. All bodies, all skill levels, all genders, and all ages are welcome! If you can't sit on the ground, go ahead and bring a beach chair. As long as kids won't be disruptive they can participate. Please, no unleashed, or loud, pets.
About the Roaming Naturopath
Dr. Lisa is an Naturopathic Doctor in Santa Cruz who focuses on cardiovascular health, addictions medicine, and chronic pain who shares health news and natural medicine tips.