For years scientific studies have surfaced revealing the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation to treat a plethora of anxiety disorders, and general daily stress. In today’s world it is so easy to become overwhelmed by the things that surround us on a daily basis – stressful jobs, too little sleep, relationships, the overwhelming bombardment of information we receive from social media, news outlets, and constant advertisements. It is easy to forget in our day to day lives to take a step back, and just breathe.
Most of us struggle with anxiety at least once in our lives, and to many it can be a daily objective. It is no secret that in today’s world we are constantly being torn in a hundred different directions, trying to balance the scales of our lives. There have been times in my life when I was having panic attacks on a daily basis, and there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. My thoughts would whirlwind and spiral out of control – there were times I couldn’t make it to class, or work, or even out of bed. This anxiety often led to feelings of helplessness, and depression. I tried so many different things. But nothing made it go away, until I began practicing breathing. It sounds so simple, so mindless, we breathe all day every day after all, so what does it mean to practice breathing?
Mindfulness is being aware of your breath, concentrating on your inhalations, pulling into your lungs that positive, pure air, and releasing your stress and anxiety with your exhalation. And it takes time – for many an unquiet mind, meditation can feel frustrating at first, as your thoughts spiral and you begin questioning “why am I doing this?” “there are a million other things I ought to be doing right now”, or focusing too heavily on those negative thoughts or self doubt. This is the challenge. The good news is, studies have shown that meditating for only five minutes a day can have a positive impact on your life, your mental health, and thereby your physical health.
Sitting in quiet contemplation just once a day, for however long, or short you have time for, can completely change your mood – leaving you more refreshed, energized, confident, and less stressed! And you can do it anywhere – I have a small space in my apartment with my meditation cushion and some incense (sage for lifting my spirits and awakening my mind, and lavender to soothe my mind and promote relaxation). It is quiet – away from the t.v., and peaceful – away from clutter, dirty dishes, and electronic devices. I also find practicing breathing outside, in a quiet park or near water or trees, is wonderfully refreshing – breathing in fresh air is also proven to lift your mood and relieve stress.
Waking up just five minutes early, and giving yourself that time, just for you and your head, is so uplifting. Try it once and boost your day. Practice it regularly and transform your entire demeanor.