Relax and really do nothing

July 04, 2017

I am passionate about all things meditative, anything that allows us to relax and rest from our busy lives and the constant thinking of the mind.

I am passionate about all things meditative, anything that allows us to relax and rest from our busy lives and the constant thinking of the mind.

Many things lead us into a meditative space, usually the thing you love to do most, whether it’s gardening, cooking, creating, golf, walking the dog, yoga, tai chi, walking the labyrinth or aerobic exercise. However, the most effective practice is sitting meditation, followed closely by yoga.

These practices have been shown to have profound benefits for our health. Research shows that 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation once or twice a day for as little as eight weeks shows positive changes in the brain, increased heart health, better immunity, lowered anxiety and depression, improved concentration, more happiness and slower ageing.

It allows our bodies to move from the stress response of “fight or flight” into our relaxation response where we can rest, digest, relax and repair. With a list of benefits like that, it’s a great thing to add to your day.

When I first talk to people about meditation, common responses are “I will never be able to stop thinking” and “I’ve tried it once and can’t do it”.

Fortunately, meditation does not require huge effort to stop thinking. We are actually taught that the mind thinks and that is normal. However, we can make a choice to not pay too much attention to the thoughts and just let them come and go like the clouds in the sky.

As for trying it once, meditation is a skill we learn, just like playing the piano or a good game of tennis. It takes practice to gain a level of ease and skill with anything new. Meditation is training for the mind, just like going to the gym is training for the body. So how do you start?

I recommend going to a class or attending a regular group meditation as it is always easier to get started when sitting with others. It is also good to have your questions answered. There are a number of regular groups in Shepparton, including our Monday, Tuesday and Thursday groups at Harmony Place.

Or you can ask your children and grandchildren, as they are probably meditating at school. If you are too busy for that, there are plenty of good apps you can download, including Smiling Mind and headspace.

Doing one, two or five-minute meditations is a great place to start, but nothing replaces 20 to 40 minutes for a chance to really stop, let go, relax, allow the mind to settle and go deeply into ‘doing nothing’ for a while.

That’s where you find the real benefits.

Dr Lisa Shortridge is a registered chiropractor, holistic healing practitioner, labyrinth facilitator, long-term meditator, wife, mother and grandmother who has run a successful wellness practice in Shepparton for 30 years. Now semi-retired, Lisa teaches meditation and works to promote awareness of the labyrinth. She is inspired to empower people to live healthily, happily and consciously.

What is your experience with meditation? Let us know in the comment section.

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