I’ve been reading about the habits of “successful” people in a book called Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. In this book, success is defined in many ways. Business tycoons, professional athletes, best-selling authors, and others are included in the mix. One common theme is that 90% of “successful” people meditate.
I’ve never been good at meditation or slowing down but who doesn’t want to be successful? Determined to be like successful people, I am trying to incorporate some mindful meditation into my lifestyle.
According to Wikipedia, “Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.”
That makes sense, right? Most of us need a little assistance when we begin the practice of meditation.
Smart phones to the rescue! There are many apps that will assist with meditation. My favorite is HeadSpace. There are many options on this app. Sometimes, you can take just 3-5 minutes and focus on breathing.
The benefits of focused breathing are:
- Bringing your mind to a centered state
- Reduction in stress hormones
- Relaxation of the body
- Decreased blood pressure and heart rate
- Improved immune system response (We all need that these days)
Experiment with the different options. Some people like sleep stories. Basically, the narrator will tell you a bedtime story in a calming voice. I frankly found the voice a little creepy, but many people like it.
The HeadSpace has some videos that last about 10 minutes. The videos vary but include baby animals falling asleep (how cute it that?), baby animals playing, ocean creatures in their environment, sunsets and more. This is my favorite option on the app so far. While I don’t think this is quite as beneficial as breathing, it forces your mind to focus on something other than work or solving the world’s problems.
However, I found the best way to calm my mind is hiking and walking in the woods and mountain trails. There is a peace in being in nature. Then I heard about walking meditation. It’s actually a thing!
According to masterclass.com, walking meditation is a helpful exercise that focuses on both your physical and mental well-being. It is a mindfulness practice that blends the physical experience of walking with the focused mindfulness of a meditative state. Here are some of the benefits of walking meditation:
- Improves awareness. The goal of meditation while walking is to be present in the moment. It’s normal to think about every-day things. Sometimes your mind will wander and that’s ok. Just consciously bring your mind back to present.
- Improves sleep quality. Who else tries to solve the world’s problems at bedtime? Meditation can decrease stress, lower heart rate and blood pressure and increase the body’s production of melatonin, which helps you sleep.
- Improves mental clarity. When we slow down our thought process, we become less overwhelmed and then we can think clearly. When we take the stress out of the process, we can solve problems better.
- Facilitates mind-body connection. Mindful walking involves an awareness of your body’s movement, the feeling of the ground and the air around you. The feeling of the breeze on your face and even the smell of the environment.
True mindful walking involves an intentionally slow gait. I find that just getting out there and walking is good for you. Don’t worry about the details, just get outside.
Here in Florida, we have many opportunities to be in nature. We’ve got the ocean right here. Just being near the ocean and hearing the waves can have a calming effect. Many people enjoy watching the sunrise (and posting pics on Facebook- thanks for sharing). I love the pictures but alas am not a morning person. I rarely catch a morning sunrise. However, my back patio often gives me a pretty view of the sunset and staring at the setting sun (carefully) can be very relaxing. We also have many walking and hiking trails to explore.
Sometimes a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. We found a nice cabin in the mountains and enjoy an escape from time to time (check out our link at the end).
As we enter a new year, I encourage you all to slow down for a minute and take a deep breath.
Here’s to your health,
Check out our favorite cabin in the mountains!