For most of my life, my moods and emotions have been in charge. I often felt like I was on a roller coaster, an innocent bystander to whatever mood or emotion was rushing through me and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t control what was happening to me.
I tried medication, which at first helped, but then just deadened my emotions, except for anger -that always seemed to be present. I tried to exercise it out, you remember the Legally Blonde movie; "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't." That helped, but only temporarily.
Then about 5 years ago after a major life change, I started on a path of self-discovery which led me to try out alternative methods of reigning in my emotions and centering my moods. This blog series is all about the different ways I have learned to take control of my moods and emotions when they want to control me. We’ll start with one of my favorites, a silent but effective method- meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
My nickname growing up was Princess Motormouth. I’m a born extrovert. The amount of time I find myself being silent or in silence is minimal. Whether I’m driving, or walking in nature, I am more comfortable with music or an audiobook playing than with silence. But as I began down the path of self-awareness, I repeatedly found evidence that finding time to be intentionally quiet through meditation, even just a few minutes a day, had a profound effect on your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing.
Countless studies have been done on the benefits of meditation and below are just a few:
· Reduces stress
· Increases emotional strength and health
· Helps with anxiety
· Promotes happiness
· Regulates mood
· Helps with focus, concentration, and memory
· Promotes better decision-making stills
· Promotes better sleep
· Improves circulation
· Increases self-awareness
· Boosts immune system
In this instant gratification world, we are always looking for the next quick fix. While I get it, when it comes to meditations, the benefits are not instantaneous. The changes are as subtle as the act of meditation itself but with regular, steady use I can attest from personal experience, they do happen.
My journey began with guided meditation. I would pop on a YouTube video when I was going to sleep or first thing in the morning and over the years I have advanced to taking a transcendental meditation course and practicing every day, twice a day for 20 minutes. My advice is to pick a meditation practice – even if it is 5-10 minutes at the beginning/end of your day and do it daily for a month. Below are a couple of great ways to begin meditation
Where to begin - Types of Meditation
If you are delving into meditation for the first time, I highly suggest starting with guided meditation. Guided meditation is simply "meditation with the help of a guide". You can find a never-ending supply of guided meditations on YouTube. The meditations all follow a similar format. Your guide will ask you to sit comfortably or lie down. You then listen to your guide while they lead you through a series of relaxing deep breaths and visualizations. As you gradually relax and become more and more still, stress fades away, and your mind becomes clearer and clearer. And the best part - there is a guided meditation for every moment or situation in your life. There are morning meditations, help you sleep meditations, ones that help with stress, anger, and on the flipside gratitude and love. You name it and there’s a guided meditation out there for you.
One of my personal favorites on YouTube is The Honest Guys. They have a variety of videos and are a great way to ease into guided meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is all about bringing you and your thoughts into the present. For beginners, Mindfulness Meditations can also be found on YouTube. They come in varying lengths from 1 minute and up.
You can also practice Mindfulness Meditations on your own by following the below-suggested steps.
· Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck, and back straight but relaxed.
· Try and put aside all thoughts of the past and future and focus on the moment.
· Feel the breath moving in and out of your body. Feel your belly rise and fall and the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.
· Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety, or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don't ignore or suppress them. Simply acknowledge them and return to focusing on your breath.
· If you find yourself losing focus, just relax. Some meditations will be more peaceful than others. But all will provide you benefits.
· If you are pressed for time set your alarm but make sure to give yourself a minute or two to allow yourself to come out of the meditative state peacefully. If you pull yourself out to fast you can end up with a headache or feeling irritable.
Mantra meditation is the process of quieting and focusing the mind using a sound, word or phrase recited either aloud or silently. The purpose of mantra meditation is for religious and spiritual growth, or for relaxation.
Originally, mantras where Sanskrit, today along with the Sanskrit, mantras have also shifted to any word or phrase that encourages the mind to focus. One of the most popular Sanskrit mantras is the word, Om.
Om (Aum, ohm) This is said to be the first sound of the Universe. Each syllable of this tiny but powerful word should be pronounced fully, A-U-M. Doing so will allow you to feel energy flow through your entire body. The droning sound of the Om is said to unblock the throat chakra, which can lead to more attuned communication with others.
A quick google search will help you find other Sanskrit mantras.
If Sanskrit feels a bit ‘out there’ for you. You can also pick a phrase in your given language that speaks to you. These phrases are more like affirmations but can give you something positive to focus upon. These can include
· I am
· I am peace.
· I am joy.
· I open myself to Abundance.
For tips on how to begin your Mantra Meditation – we highly suggest this article from The Yoga Journal
These are just a few of the wonderful types of meditation that can help you on the journey to reigning in your moods and emotions. But remember, meditating should be part of your daily ritual just like brushing your teeth. You brush your teeth daily, or even multiple time per day, because just brushing your teeth once wouldn’t really do anything for you. The same mindset should apply to meditation. You need to do it regularly in order to get the results.
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