Benefits of Meditation | Choices Retreats Bali by Dr. Jeremy Alford

Taking a moment to take a step back from your busy schedule to sit down without having anything other to do then to simply be with yourself for ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty or more minutes each day, with your eyes closed, is something many of us struggle with. The very idea of sitting alone, being with your thoughts is strangely frightening for some. The quest for knowing oneself can seem daunting and so many of us will prefer to stay far away from the process of introspection and self-exploration through avoidance by constantly keeping ourselves busy.

I often hear people say that they cannot meditate. That this is not for them or that they tried but it didn’t work, or that they cannot empty their mind from thoughts. Clearly, many seem to have some misconceived understanding of what meditation is. For one: meditation is not about emptying one’s mind of thoughts. It doesn’t work that way. The natural state of the mind is to have thoughts. Therefore you will always experience thoughts coming and going through your mind. It is the frequency and quality of thoughts that will vary and sometimes you might have experiences of being thought free, even though that is not the goal. Becoming aware of thoughts without judging them is what meditation is. 

 Everyone can meditate because it is something natural within each of us. It is something that you deliberately tap into and practice. It will not just happen to you and nothing negative can happen as a result of practising meditation. It cannot trigger anything emotional within oneself if it is not already there to begin with. The benefits of regular daily meditation are numerous and many studies have shown how it reduces stress, improves concentration, encourages a healthy lifestyle, increases happiness, slows ageing, increases self-awareness and has many physiological advantages for the heart, the immune system and our overall hormones responsible for our mood and quality of thoughts.

 The more one meditates the better quality of life one experiences. There are many ways of initiating oneself to meditate. Some will repeat a sound, or a word silently in their mind; others will count from to 1 to 6 on each inhale and exhale; others will listen to music or a melody in the background or focus their attention on specific sounds whether birds chirping, or the sound of their breath as a point of focus to help attain a deeper level where none of these techniques are even required. These are only various strategies to get you started, even guided meditations.

Whether you are struggling from various stresses, have reached burnout, or are experiencing anxieties or depression or some trauma, then meditation will be very helpful when combined with cognitive behavioural therapy. In fact, yoga is a wonderful practice to discover and is a great mind and body re-connector.

Source: Benefits of Meditation | Choices Retreats Bali by Dr. Jeremy Alford

Take A Deep Breath | Choices Retreats Bali by Dr. Jeremy Alford

Breathing in through your nose, deeply, while blowing your tummy out, like a balloon and then gently exhaling through your mouth, all the way to the end of the breath. There is a natural pause between each inhale and exhale. There is no need to rush. In fact, the more you take your time, the better the exercise and the more effective results you get. You can repeat the cycle for as many breaths as you find helpful, or at least enough times that you can notice a physical and mental sense of calm and ease. Alternatively, you could simple target repeating a series of ten breaths each time you engage in the exercise. And if needed, you could choose to repeat as many series of ten breath in a row depending on how comfortably regulated you would like to be. 

This basic exercise is called the abdominal breathing and it is such an effective coping tool. In fact, what makes it so effective is because it is a tool that is with you, in your pocket or in your bag wherever you are. Every time you find yourself getting caught up by negative emotions or have a thought that you don’t wish to have that crosses your mind, you can use this abdominal breath.

 You could do it sitting, lying down or even walking. The only rule is not to cross your arms and legs for the blood circulation to flow more loosely. If you really want this exercise to become an automatic response whenever needed, the best way to make that happen is through practice. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes. So one way to develop this new useful habit is by repeating the exercise in the morning as you wake up and in the evening before you go to bed, whether you are feeling good or not. And of course, to remember to apply it throughout the day whenever you notice some form of dis-ease kicking in.

 If you found this exercise beneficial do comment and share. 

You might also want to check out our upcoming retreats centred on Mindfulness. 

Source: Take A Deep Breath | Choices Retreats Bali by Dr. Jeremy Alford