Meditation. What does that word stir up in you? For me, just reading the word conjures images of tight yoga pants, communal chanting, and agonizingly long minutes (to hours) of sitting absolutely still while forcefully clearing the mind. Seems so tedious! If only there was a way to get all the benefits of meditation without all the ascetic requirements, vows to a guru, or joining the crunchy granola club. Well, good news, there is! After pursuing healthful living, knowing the amazing promise of meditation, I began to look for the “Cliff Notes” of Mindfulness. Enter Micromeditation!
Tell Me, Why Meditation is Awesome
First, let’s begin with the benefits of meditation. For thousands of years, meditation has been utilized across the globe in every culture. The practices are very similar, the names are vast, the advantages are deep, and the disadvantages are limited to non-existent. Just as humans have had thousands of years of practice, we now have thousands of scientific studies in the literature to support the implementation of meditation for nearly every ailment that afflicts humankind.
Have any cravings or addictions? Whether it be cigarettes, food, negative emotions, or toxic relationships – meditation can help by reducing cravings and bingeing (loss of self-control), decreasing withdrawal (psychophysiological symptoms of non-usage), and increasing “an attitude of acceptance and openness to internal and external experiences,” as noted by researchers at the Department of Psychology at the Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute.
Suffer from headaches, migraines, or any physical pains? Amy Wachholtz, Ph.D. at the Department of Psychiatry for the University of Massachusetts Medical School reports on a month-long study. After 4 weeks, meditators reduced migraines by 50%, and physiological stress reactivity by 40%. I’ll admit, these numbers may not seem overwhelmingly impressive. But if you have experienced frequent migraines for years, a 50% reduction within a month is life-changing! Let’s not forget that sleep was improved, emotional stress reduced, and a multitude of factors that improve the act of living. Dr. Wachholtz also reports that as the frequency of meditation increases, the frequency of migraines decreases. The more you meditate, the less pain you experience!
Chronic Condition – Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease? Meditation has been shown to be “an acceptable health and well-being intervention for people with LTCs [Long-Term Conditions],” as documented in a study from Behavioral Medicine in 2014. What that means – meditation is medicine! Moreso, meditation is known by Western physicians to be effective in treating patients with chronic, debilitating diseases!
How soon can I experience the benefits of meditation?
Immediately! Study after study shows at least improvements in emotional condition, as illustrated by EEG and questionnaires, during and directly after meditation. A research team from Brazil found that after only 5 days of meditation psychological markers were greatly improved. This corroborated numerous other studies on brief exposure to meditation. Emotional regulation, self-control, perceived anxiety levels, psychological stress reactivity, work-task attentiveness, working memory, and more, all drastically enhanced. Let’s say it succinctly, in less a week, a person will become better at being in this world by meditating for brief periods in a day.
What is MicroMeditation?
Essentially, it is meditation only abbreviated. I know what you are going to ask, and yes, it is effective and will bestow upon you all the benefits of longer meditation sessions. That said, the more you can practice, the better! But truly, one minute a day is all you need to experience the incredible effects of meditation and mindfulness. Here is the challenge, try it and see for yourself. You do have 60 seconds to invest in yourself! Read on and give it a go …
MicroMeditation Super Simple Suggestions
Think you need a special meditation cushion, specific breathing pattern, or rigid posture … Think again. Seriously, this can be accomplished whether you are sitting, lying down, standing, even walking. Eyes open or shut, it’s up to you. Pranayama or simply normal breathing, it is totally okay. All that is required is you!
So, how can you easily gain all the bountiful benefits of meditation with sessions that are practical and effective and brief?
Step 1: Pay attention and observe.
Place your attention on exactly what you are doing. You can do it right here and now. As you read these words allow them to marinate over your being. Read them intently, and ponder over the meaning of each and every word. Observe the curvature and angles of each letter, the spacing between each word, the design of each sentence. Be present by slowing down. Or close your eyes and gaze deeply on the inside of your eyelids. Sense any light that permeates beyond the boundary, or delve into the absence of light. By paying attention in the moment, we afford ourselves the opportunity to dream while awake, to perceive reality as it is, to explore the timeless essence of now – this is mindfulness.
So you see, this can be done at any moment, in any place, with others present or alone. Forget rules, just be attentive and experience this moment.
Imagine a scientist writing a research paper. They did all the experimentations, they went through the thrill of the scientific process, and now they must simply write about it. Sure, they probably had emotional attachments to what they were doing, especially if they were passionate about the project. However now, they simply write about what happened and what conclusions they’ve reached. As you meditate for the minute, just take mental notes. Thought will pop up and that is perfectly fine. Check, noted, and moving on.
Step 2: If you can, you must.
No excuses, you have 1 minute – 60 small seconds – to plant your attention. Some days, it may feel like a great effort just to do this one minute meditation. Other days, it will fly by. If you can do more, say 2 minutes, say 5 minutes, or even 15 minutes, go for it! Strive for at least one solid minute of investment in your health per day.
Free yourself of reasons to distract yourself, for only a moment. If you are reading this, you have probably lived enough of this life to have heard such truths as, “It only takes a moment to change a life. It takes only a moment to take a life. It takes only a moment to save a life.” Fancifully, we crave certain moments to last forever. Sleepily, we dream away many moments that could greatly benefit us. We distract easily, and we encourage distractions. The latest episode of your favorite TV show, the most recent update on your Instagram feed, the recently added movie on Netflix. These are fine, we need distractions – just know that is what they are.
Get your friends and family involved. Really! It can be kind of an adventure. A small group of two or more not only lends more support to your health investment, but also amplifies the meditation. Maybe even add another microsession in your day. Overdosing on meditation rarely happens, and if it does it usually ends in a most peaceful slumber. I know, how dangerous!
Step 3: Celebrate!
Celebrate those moments of distraction! The contrast from mindful attentiveness will be eye opening. Celebrate that one minute meditation too! Celebrate every breath in your lungs, and every beat of your heart. It’s not some cliche new age affirmation, or is it? Either way, what do have to lose by expressing gratitude for being able to breathe? Put another way, what do you have to gain by expressing gratitude? I’ll let you answer that on your own. Hey, what a great first step towards incorporating micromeditation into your everyday life. Reflect for one minute on breathing. Reflect for one minute on one thing you are grateful for. Reflect for one minute on you.
If you desire a bit more guidance, contact Lakewood Ranch Acupuncture and Wellness today! Our practitioners can assist you in developing your practices further. Remember, acupuncture is great at enhancing the benefits of meditation, whether you are a novice or decades-long meditator. The Ancient Daoists, also known as Meditation Olympians, developed the system of medicine we practice in our clinic.Did you know acupuncture points ramp up the effects of meditation? Probably a good idea to get a professional treatment with professional guidance to upgrade your health. For now, enjoy the suggestions we have to offer and let it be the catalyst you need to get you meditating.
- Keyworth, Chris, et al. “A Mixed-Method Pilot Study of the Acceptability and Effectiveness of a Brief Meditation and Mindfulness Intervention for People with Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease.” Behavioral Medicine. April 2014.
- Menezes, Carolina Baptista, et al. “Brief meditation and the interaction between emotional interference and anxiety.” Article in Research Gate. January 2016.
- Tang, Yi-Yuan, et al. “Brief meditation training induces smoking reduction.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. August 2013.
- Wachholtz, Amy. “Brief meditation training for migraineurs affects emotional and physiological stress reactivity.” Article posted in Research Gate. May 2013.