If you’ve heard about the benefits of meditation but haven’t started a regular practice, you’re not alone. Many active women with maxed-out responsibilities at home and work wonder how they’d ever find the time to fit in another activity.
Today, we’ll talk about why it’s time to reconsider meditation, and how to get started with a daily five-minute practice.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the practice of training your attention and self-awareness in the moment. Though meditation is often associated with religion, it’s a secular practice that anyone can do. You don’t need to believe in anything to benefit from meditation, you simply have to do the practice consistently over time. Think of meditation as another self-care tool that gives you energy, peace, and relaxation.
The simplest form of meditation is bringing awareness to the physical sensation of breathing, noticing when your mind wanders, and returning your attention back to the breath.
You might be grappling with some common preconceived notions that make people hesitant about trying meditation. The first is that meditation means you must completely empty your mind. The second is that if you can’t sit still, you can’t meditate – and we all know how difficult it is for busy women to sit still!
Unfortunately, these myths make meditation seem more intimidating than it is, as if perfection is expected. Meditation works through practice, not perfection. Whoever you are, no matter your current or past life, health, or family situation, meditation is a stress management tool you can use effectively starting today. Even if you have ants in your pants, and your mind is running a mile a minute.
The benefits of meditation for active women
Meditation is an ancient practice that has been studied extensively and there’s little doubt that the benefits are real. It’s a great tool for active women because it provides stress relief in as little as five minutes a day, it’s free, and it can be done at home, at work, and even with your children.
The benefits of meditation include:
- Reduced stress and anxiety – If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you know how terrible it feels. Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms associated with phobias, social anxiety, and panic attacks.
- Balanced emotions – Studies have shown that a consistent meditation practice can alleviate symptoms of depression.
- Improved sleep – A regular meditation practice can make it easier to get your beauty sleep by helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Increased productivity – Meditation is about training your attention, which increases your attention span. When you can stick with tasks longer, your productivity gets a boost.
By developing a regular meditation practice, you can experience these amazing benefits and more—with no sweating, no pills, and no money.
How to meditate with a five-minute practice
- Sit comfortably in a chair or lie down on the floor or couch.
- Set a timer for five minutes.
- Close your eyes (if you’re comfortable) and take a few deep breaths.
- Feel the sensation of your breathing throughout your body.
- Start breathing naturally, without controlling the pace of your breathing.
- Be aware of the sensations you feel.
- When your mind wanders, acknowledge this gently. If it helps, you can label it softly as “thinking.”
- Bring your awareness back to your breathing. The moment your mind wanders and you bring the attention back to your breathing, this is meditation!
- Repeat until the timer beeps.
- Come back tomorrow and do it again.
- Work your way up—one minute at a time—until you have a daily practice of 20 or 30 minutes.
If you’d like to learn more about meditation methods, read the New York Times’ article and beginner’s guide, How to Meditate, or visit the Real Happiness Meditation Challenge created by meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg.
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