by Noreen Keesey | Photography: Teresa Terry
“I can’t just sit for five minutes!”
I have heard this more than once since I began my meditation teacher training and started talking with people about meditating. We live in a time where people are busy, and multitasking seems an absolute necessity. As implementing a meditation practice can seem daunting, it may be helpful to explore some reasons one might want to do so.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) within the National Institutes of Health conducts and supports research on complementary health products and practices. The list of conditions for which meditation is being studied for effectiveness is surprisingly long. Evidence shows that it may reduce blood pressure, ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and positively impact anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Other areas of study include the management of chronic pain, reducing stress and stress induced inflammation, supporting addiction treatment, easing migraines, and much more. In addition to the potential health outcomes, meditation can improve decision making, increase mental focus, facilitate learning, have a positive impact on managing anger and symptoms of post traumatic stress, and help kids manage the symptoms of attention deficit disorder. The possibilities of beneficial outcomes without worries of side effects and drug dependency make meditation an intriguing area of study, and research
into its effectiveness is ongoing. It is, of course, recommended that you discuss your interest in complementary health practices with your physician.
There are many forms of meditation; experiment and find one that works for you. Get curious and be willing to try different things. When I started a formal practice,
I sat on a cushion and meditated in a small closet in my home. I found the space confining and, due to joint pain, was uncomfortable sitting with my legs crossed. When I started meditating in my living room while sitting in a comfortable chair, it made a significant difference in the frequency and length of my meditation sessions.
Having a consistent place to sit can make meditation easier, as the familiar environment creates cues that help you to relax. As you get more comfortable with your practice, you may find that you can meditate anywhere. The red rocks of Sedona, Arizona were a beautiful backdrop for my meditation practice recently. There are many peaceful, inspiring spots and it is pretty easy to find a rock to sit upon. I found it to be a vast improvement over the meditation closet.
Why wait any longer to start your practice? Find a place to sit, get comfortable, and close your eyes. Pay attention to your breath. When you notice your mind has wandered, bring your attention back to your breath without judgement. Note the thought and return to your breath. Try starting with five minutes each day and see what happens. Play around with your practice a little. You can try different times of day, vary the length of time, add soft background music, or put some soothing essential oil blends into a diffuser. Sit in a chair or on a pillow and wrap up in your coziest blanket. Before your know it, your meditation time may become a healing ritual that you cherish.
Noreen Keesey has incorporated meditation techniques into her daily life for decades. She is now learning to teach others how to access the many benefits of the practice.