Meditation: Reduces Stress, Improves Memory, and Increases Focus

By Memory Spring Faculty

Over the last few years, there have been countless studies on meditation and how it positively impacts the brain. Data shows that meditation reduces subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improves attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.  A UCLA study revealed that people who meditated on a daily basis maintained better preserved brains with more grey matter as they aged. Yale University found that mindfulness meditation also calmed down mindless wandering – a tendency to ruminate on the past and future, thus creating anxiety and stress. John Hopkins University found that mindfulness meditation helped reduced anxiety, depression, and pain. 

What is Mindfulness Meditation? According to Wikipedia, Mindfulness Meditation is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment. The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali-term sati, which is a significant element of some Buddhist traditions.

Megan McKenzie of SoCal Hot Yoga recommends the following steps to help you implement mindfulness meditation into your daily life:

1) Create a comfortable place to sit.

Set up an environment where you are free from distractions. You might light a candle, burn some incense, or use essential oils to get your senses flowing. Some people like relaxing music or wave sounds. You might even establish a little sacred space in your own home to remind you to practice at least 10 minutes a day on nothing but yourself. 

2) Pick a seated position in which you can sit comfortably for at least ten minutes.

It’s important that you’re physically comfortable when meditating. You should be able to maintain the same position for 10 minutes, although it’s not mandatory. Many people sit against a wall with their legs crossed, good back support is a plus. Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you to be comfortable. 

3) During your meditation, practice working with the breath.

Long deep inhales through the nose where your lungs are full and then long deep exhales where your stomach becomes flat are optimal. Make it a slow rhythmic pace. Focus on your breath. Whenever distractions pop in your head, focus on your breath more deeply. There is no right way of breathing but being very aware of the breath does help focus the mind.

4) Acknowledge your thoughts…and let them go.

When thoughts arise, acknowledge them by admitting to yourself, “Okay, that is a thought,” and then focus on your next inhale.

5) Decide on a mantra or technique to bring the focus back.

Coming up with a mantra, some word or phrase, that you connect with and repeat in your mind will help keep external thoughts from entering the mind in the first place and bring the focus back if thoughts arise. Megan’s mantra is: 

I choose happiness.

I am perfectly at peace.

I am in the present moment.

Megan advises that you should choose something that has personal meaning or is significant to you at that time, such as “I choose happiness” or “I am perfectly at peace”. What you use as your mantra or affirmation is completely up to you, just give it dedication and practice to ensure that it is meaningful to you.

Get into the flow and implement mindfulness meditation into your life today.  You’ll feel more relaxed and focused, and your brain will love it too. For more questions on meditation or any other mommy memory challenges, Click here.

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