Meditation and mindfulness in general have been topics that consistently have piqued my interest. It’s time to put my thoughts into action!
Our minds are such strong instruments that I feel we don’t necessarily use to our fullest capabilities.
I was grateful to meet this guest from one of our LIVE at the Lounge chats. Gwendolyn is the founder of Next in Mind. She was kind enough to share the basics of meditation and how we can actually get our kids involved!
Gwen started meditating when she was eight years old – very much ahead of the times. Over the past few years she had been thinking about how well meditation has helped her and wondering how she could teach the practice to more kids.
Meditation makes such a difference in mental health and resilience, and just feeling good about yourself. Gwen woke up one day and realized that she really wanted to do something she was passionate about and that would impact the world – something she could put her own signature on.
Gwen developed Next in Mind a little over 1 1/2 years ago, working one-on-one with kids and families, treating them the benefits and how to meditate.
People are really starting to pay attention to meditation. The fact that you can meditate basically wherever to a certain degree, helps immensely!
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
One of the most important benefits of meditation is that it helps you handle stress; coping with everyday demands. Coping with the uncertainty that we all have experienced over the past six months has really challenged us. Change, which we have all experienced too, is super hard.
The ability to cope with uncertainty and change reduces our stress. It then reduces the cortisol and the hormones in our body that produce inflammation, which make us susceptible to illness and makes us sleep horribly.
It trickles down from there. Meditation aides in making people more resilient and able to handle what comes their way.
HOW TO BEGIN MEDITATING
There are a number of meditation apps you can download to your smartphone. The apps are a great option but they tend to overwhelm the beginner meditator.
For this form of meditation, all you need is the timer from your phone! Set it for three to five minutes, close your eyes, and breathe deeply – focusing on the breath itself. Pay attention to your surroundings in terms of the sensations in your body.
If you’d like, you can put on earphones and listen to something very mellow to help you chill out.
Meditation can take place just about anywhere. It can be at your desk. You can meditate with your eyes open, fixing your gaze on a particular thing in the room.
Along with the self-care recommendations that we hear about – face masks, massages, warm baths – meditation should be included in the mix.
Time block on your calendar in the beginning before it becomes more of a habit than something you need to remember.
You can actually Google “breathing exercises”, but one that Gwen likes is the Box Method. Navy Seals use this form of breathing in their exercises.
Another breathing exercise is simply comprised of breathing in for two seconds, and out for four seconds. Repeat. Basically it is doubling the time for exhaling than inhaling. Simply put, you breathe in like you are tracing along one side of the box, hold your breath as you trace the second side of the box, exhale during the tracing of the third side, holding for the fourth – then repeat.
HOW CAN I GET THE KIDS TO MEDITATE?
The fact that you can meditate for only 3 – 5 minutes and reap the benefits is the very first indicator that kids can do this too! The reason I say this is because my boys are all about FaceTiming their friends, playing on the computer or gaming console, and/or watching their favorite show. They can most definitely take three to five minutes out of their day to practice meditation.
Gwen recommends lighting a candle and using that as the point of fixation (which I do at times and it works really well with the boys).
I’ve noticed that the boys are more relaxed afterward as if a reset button on them was pushed,
HOW TO QUIET THE MIND
Our minds are always racing. As a mom, we’re multi-tasking in exorbitant ways. It’s harder than ever to quiet our minds, but by doing so we are helping ourselves to heal and relax.
A myth about meditation is that it is a form of emptying your mind. It is actually just slowing the thoughts down. When your mind starts wandering, bring your focus back to the breath. Pay attention to what you feel, rather than what you think. What can you see behind your eyelids, what can you hear? Go through and hone in on your senses.
HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK SHOULD I MEDITATE?
We are all busy, but taking 20 minutes one to two times per day would be ideal. Technically though, you can meditate just about anywhere. Deep breathing and concentration can occur in the car during a traffic jam (with your eyes open of course!). You can meditate in your office after a conference call or meeting. You can even meditate in the shower!
Learn more about meditation and connect with Gwen at NextInMind.com.