“Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
As we age, don’t we all face major life changes? Be it retirement, a decline in health, loneliness, increased reliance on someone else, loss of a near one and so on. There is simply no escaping these. Sure, these can be challenging and may also lead to depression, anxiety, and other negative feelings. But what good is wallowing in our sorrow or being upset constantly?
We all know that our thoughts influence our body, both in positive and negative ways. What if I told you that you can leverage the power of your mind to help you feel better? Easy and simple practices like mindfulness exercises, pranayama, chanting are some of the ways to use mind-body techniques to heal and cope with negativity.
Just like physical exercise, taking care of mental health also needs to be a consistent and committed process. Find time in your daily routine that you can dedicate exclusively to this practice. It will make it easier to form a habit. Early in the morning or late evenings are usually ideal times, free of distractions.
Have a dedicated area for your practice – a place where you’re not disturbed and can get into a relaxed mindset. It could be a quiet corner in the house, the terrace or any other convenient place. Ensure it is peaceful, well-lit and properly ventilated so that you are comfortable during your practice.
Some practical ideas for implementing mindfulness are:
- Keeping a gratitude journal to write down what you’re grateful for. This will bring your attention to all the positive aspects of your life and enhance the feeling of gratitude. Research has shown that gratitude journals have a positive impact on physical and psychological well-being.
- Practice positive thinking. Learn to consciously think optimistic, positive thoughts. Be aware when your mind focuses on the negative. It will take some time but once you can distinguish between these and learn to avoid pessimistic thoughts, your overall mood and outlook will improve.
- Incorporate the practice of meditation. In addition to the numerous health benefits, meditation activates the prefrontal cortex of the brain that is responsible for increasing feelings of happiness. You can meditate by simply closing your eyes and focusing on a word (like Om), a positive mental image (like a peaceful scenery or a smiling baby) or by watching your breath or focusing on different parts of your body.
- Breathing exercises or Pranayama can help centre your mind and bring a feeling of Zen. Just like meditation, it has shown to have an impact on improving circulation, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Yoga is a great way to bring awareness to your body and breath. It not only impacts your body by building strength and enhancing flexibility, but also aids in calming your mind.
- Listen to relaxing music to soothe your mind. Don’t underestimate the power of music. Be it instrumental music or some religious chanting; whatever gives you a sense of peace and quiet. Get your mind to focus on the music and don’t allow your mind to wander.
- What is the cause of your stress? Identify the problems. Lighten your burden by speaking your heart out with a trusted friend or family member. If not, there is always the option of seeking professional help from a therapist or a counselor. Don’t let the cause of stress to fester. Take timely action to deal with the issue.
The best parts about these practices:
- It is free!
- There are no side-effects.
- You can do it anywhere and at any time
- It is guaranteed to make you feel better.
There is absolutely nothing to lose but a whole lot to gain. So give it a try!