Meditation is something that I often suggest to my patients. One of the most common responses is, “Oh, I’m really bad at meditation.” My response is always the same - “Everyone is bad at meditation! That’s why it is called a practice.” My intention in suggesting meditation to patients is not to get everyone sitting on the floor like the Buddha and chanting Ohm. If you are into this, and it works for you, fantastic! Unfortunately, most people see this as their only option for meditation, they try it once or twice and when it “doesn’t work” the practice goes to the wayside. My intention is to encourage my patients to tune into the present moment and therefore themselves. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, in fact it should be simple and refreshing.
There are many ways to define meditation. I like to keep it simple and see it as a simple self check-in. One common prescription for my patients is 5 belly-breaths in the morning and 5 belly-breaths at night. The objective would be to focus on the breath, count the breaths, check in with the body during the inhalation and exhalation and track how it feels during this process. 5 breaths doesn’t take a long time, I feel this is an exercise that everyone can accomplish. As it becomes easier, I encourage people to extend it upwards to 10, 15 and even 20 breaths. When the mind takes over and distracts us from our breath, we gently just regain focus into the breath. Very simple.
Another simple way to begin meditation is through a moving meditation. It is important to move our bodies every day, this keeps the qi (“chee”) moving and pain at bay. It doesn’t have to be intense or vigorous movement, just 20 minutes of movement EVERY day can easily improve a lot of health conditions including low energy, chronic pain, headaches, constipation, etc. The easiest way to accomplish this is through walking; it is inexpensive form of exercise and accessible to most people. I often suggest being extra productive with the addition of a moving meditation to this exercise. By focusing on the breath and/or the steps while walking for 20 minutes every day, just about anyone can have an exercise and meditation practice.
These are 2 simple and accessible techniques available to people who are interested in meditation. Why should we meditate? For the cultivation of self-awareness and consciousness in order to feel better both physically and mentally. As an alternative healthcare practitioner, I am often treating people at the end of their rope. They have “tried everything” and can’t seem to get rid of whatever chronic state of pain or discomfort their body is in. I believe that with cultivation of self-awareness and consciousness, we don’t have to get to this point. It is a practice that will feed into our every day lives and existence. By tuning in morning and night, we are more able to quickly tune in during the day as well. We will have awareness surrounding our bodies throughout the day and more easily be able to feed it nourishing food, drink water when we are thirsty, rest when we are tired, exercise when we are agitated, communicate our needs to the people in our life, etc. This is ultimately what keeps a human body on track toward good health.
Unfortunately, most humans in our society these days are in survival mode and completely detached from their bodies. They come home from work exhausted, turn on the tv and numb with some sort of substance/food. If there is more awareness turning inward during the day, there will be less exhaustion at night. If we can come into the present moment during our work days, we can make better connections with people and receive more inspiration, potentially making us more productive at our jobs. It will also allow us to have more to give to our families and/or friends after the work day is over. Through these simple meditation techniques, we can cultivate awareness and consciousness and therefore, better health. Give it a try and your body, family, friends and/or co-workers might actually thank you.