In our modern day world where high stress is the norm, our brains have not yet learned to differentiate a real threat from a perceived threat, so any stress kicks the brain into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. The results? Symptoms that mirror or include anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. This can be devastating and debilitating to deal with, but there are a lot of coping skills that can help us retrain our brains and bodies to react differently.
Meditation is a great tool to use that can be done anywhere by anyone. Studies have shown many benefits, including: decreased blood pressure; increased oxygen to the cells; slowed activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear; and a shift in brain waves from the stress prone right frontal cortex into the calmer left frontal cortex. This literal shift in brain wave activity accounts for the shift in mood that meditators experience.
One of the easiest meditations to do is a Kundalini yoga meditation I call “555”, which usespranayama, or controlled breathing. This meditation can be done in as little as a minute, but anywhere from five to ten minutes is ideal.
- Find a comfortable position for you. Straighten your spine.
- Place your palms upward.
- Gently release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
- Inhale for a 5 count.
- Hold your breath for a 5 count.
- Exhale for a 5 count.
- As you are doing this, you are also invited to do a body scan from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Notice any areas that are holding tension and breathe into these areas.
As we practice our meditation and breathing, our mind may wander. We may lose focus or lose count. That’s okay. Just bring it back to the breath.
April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW is a writer, speaker, and integrative practitioner who brings a unique voice to the field of health and wellness by combining traditional evidence-based techniques with ancient practices such as yoga and newer findings in contemplative sciences. She has been recognized as a part of “Generation Inspiration” and is also named as one of 20 Young Champions for Women by the White Ribbon Alliance and WIE Symposium, presented by Donna Karan and Arianna Huffington. You can follow April on Facebook or Twitter. Visit www.beingandwellness.com to learn about services she offers, including Reiki & coaching, or www.verbalvandalism.com to check out her latest written works.