Spring: and a tale of meditation and beauty

It all started many years ago when I was living in Ghana. Away from home and in search of a daily practice to help me stay mentally focused. It was during this time I discovered that a few extra minutes of mindful meditation can help lower anxiety and stress, and improve your sleep.

Twice a week, I sat on the rooftop of the girl's dormitory at the university campus and looked up at the stars while trying to master the art of breathing. At the beginning, I could hardly meditate for 10 seconds - my mind was everywhere and slightly out of control. However as time passed and with much practice and a focus on my breathing, my mind quieted. I learned how to direct it better to focus on something or nothing at all.

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There are many ways to practice mindful meditation. In a recent study, published in Science in March 2017, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and their colleagues identified a handful of nerve cells in the brain that connect breathing to states of mind.

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To practice mindful meditation, find a quiet, comfortable place to sit and focus. You can do it just about anywhere. Most important is to be present. You can always start with a minute and work your way up. Read on to learn about three different techniques.

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Mindful Breathing

Focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Try to focus your thought on your breathing. Start with a minute and progress to a few minutes. There are also guided meditations that you can listen to at varying lengths to help you stay focused.

Mindful Observation

You can choose to be outside or able to see outside for this one. Choose something in nature and focus on watching it. You can also close your eyes with this image in your thoughts. Relax and watch whatever you choose as if you're seeing it for the first time. Continue for as long as you're able to maintain concentration.

Body Scan

Focus on each part of your body, starting with your head and working down to your toes. Observe the different sensations in each part of your body. Allow as much time as you need.

Want to try mindful meditation but aren't sure where to begin? You can try it on your own or download guided apps like Headspace, Insight Timer, and a few more that will give you guided meditations to help you get started.  Don't be too hard on yourself if you get distracted.  Just learn to smile until it becomes easier.

Have you tried mindful meditation? How has it helped you?

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