Patricia McMorrow | 11.07.13
Here are some meditation myths: you need at least an hour, an abundance of floor pillows, an affinity for incense, and a private guru to guide you.
The truth: As little as 15 minutes a day of simple relaxation techniques help you achieve increased immunity, emotional balance, lower blood pressure, decreased stress and inflammation, and a sense of calm.
Science backs up each of these benefits. Experts at Ohio State University found that daily muscle relaxation boosted natural “killer” cells, which resulted in the participants having greater resistance to viruses. Research published in the journal Health Psychology showed that mindfulness (another word for meditation) actually decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers at Harvard and Northeastern universities published in the journal Psychological Science that meditation is linked with “more virtuous, do-good behavior.”
Sound good? Here are four ways to get started.
- Body Scan. Lie down in a quiet place, and start to mentally scan your body, starting with your head. Slowly work down—neck, shoulders, arms, fingers, chest, etc.—and simply notice where or if you feel tense. Allow your body to sink into the ground and release any clenching or tightness you feel.
- Breath Focus. Sit in a comfortable position and tune into your breath. Concentrate only on inhaling and exhaling, slowly through your nose. Your mind will wander—just return it to your breath when you notice.
- Mantra Repetition. Think of a calming phrase—the shorter the better—then take 10 to 15 minutes to sit in a quiet place and repeat it in your head. It can be anything, as long as you find it soothing.
- Guided Imagery. Similar to the mantra repetition, think of an image that makes you feel at peace. Whether it’s your cabin, a waterfall, the ocean, a sunny day in the woods—as long as you feel at peace in that place, it’s worth your time.
During stressful times, sometimes a great place to find calming support is through quotes. So, what quotes inspire you to relax and think hopefully? Share your favorites in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what inspires hope in you.