Walk, Pray, Stretch
BY AMMARA ISA
In today’s modern world and the instant gratification culture, it is frighteningly easy to get caught up in your busy life. There is always the next task to be completed whether it’s a big project at work or the stresses of running a household. This leaves your inner self dangerously neglected. Your mind becomes maze of unfinished duties lacking in clarity and efficiency.
This is where meditation comes in. It directs your awareness inward and forces you to focus on yourself. Therefore, you must commit to understanding your own mind. This focus on the self naturally translates to a better physical life. There are several different ways to meditate and it can be overwhelming researching meditation methods, so here are a few ways to try to slow down your mind and rejuvenate your thoughts.
The thousands-year-old practice of yoga combine various movements with coordinated breathing to help you focus on your inner self. If you are a beginner, try Hatha yoga that introduces basic stretches and provides an excellent foundation for more complex positions. More advanced practitioners of yoga may want to try out Bikram yoga classes where temperatures are set to 100°F to encourage greater detoxification of the body.
The physical benefits of yoga have been proven repeatedly. It improves flexibility and strength and what is more impressive than being able to hold your own body weight? However, the focused training of your body also translates to the focused training of your mind. With every physical movement, you should become acutely aware of each muscle; know that with every breath your body is becoming stronger and your mind more aware. Yoga provides that mental nourishment that sharpens and expands your mind resulting in an invigorated awareness so you are ready to take on new challenges with ease.
One of the easiest methods to incorporate meditation into your life is through walking. Walking gives you an appreciation of the world which helps simplify your cluttered mind. Try finding a route with safe paths and where you can continually move without having to negotiate traffic; joggers parks or nature trails are best for uninterrupted walks. Focus on maintaining good posture and moving slowly. Take deep breaths and experience the motion of your body as you enjoy your renewed worldview. The physical exercise also has the added benefits of helping you sleep deeper as your body craves the extra recovery time.
Meditation does not always have to be physical. Simply turning your thoughts inwards gives you a new perspective as you let go of any confusions or fears allowing you to think rationally. Contemplation does this by allowing you to build an internal energy that you can draw from in moments of stress.
It involves being aware of the moment and accessing your thoughts without judgment. For example, note when you are nervous but do so without letting it affect your actions – simply acknowledge the emotion. Say ‘I am nervous’ and pay attention on what is making you feel that way. A greater understanding of your emotions allows you to deal with them with ease.
An easy way to contemplate is to sit in a chair with a straight back. With a soft mind, pay attention to the movement of your body; how your abdomen rises and falls with each breath. Only then, let thoughts enter your consciousness. You should find that your thoughts are absent of any excess baggage that clouds your judgment. With practice, contemplation can become an effective calming method and can be completed in a matter of minutes. Studies show that simply contemplating for ten minutes a day can even help lower your blood pressure.
Prayer with its spiritual benefits is an underutilized form of meditation. It promotes the singular focus on action that in turn clears your mind. Prayer gives you the opportunity to let go of problems allowing you to find inner contentment. It teaches you mental discipline, which induces a mode of consciousness that transcends the everyday. As you become aware of the earthliness of your problems, you are able to reflect on them effectively.
Consistent praying provides an alternate space for your thoughts where your body is trained to use this time to recuperate. It will leave you feeling rejuvenated as you transfer the strain of your problems to a higher power.
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