Merry Meditation

November 30, 2011
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Meditating is one of those wonderful gifts that life offers. This holiday season, give yourself just a few minutes of time and the willingness to shift into a calm frame of mind. Cara Phillipo, a naturopathic doctor at Pharmaca in Mill Valley, shares pointers on finding mental peace in the midst of the holiday bustle.

Periodically working to empty the mind of its clutter has proven health benefits. These range from relieving stress to helping with focus, and from slowing down the heart rate to improving cellular immunity. “It is great for physical health as well as mental health,” says Dr. Phillipo.

Most beginners find meditation to be simple, although not always easy. Dr. Phillipo offers words of encouragement, saying that it does get easier with practice. Until then, try experimenting with a few different methods to find out what suits you best. For example, some people prefer to use visualization, while others enjoy silent and soothing meditation.

For newcomers to the practice, Dr. Phillipo recommends these easy steps to get you started.

1. Start by sitting in a comfortable position. Try either sitting up with your legs crossed, arms resting on your knees and palms up, or lying down if you think you won’t fall asleep.

2. It is a good idea to find a place in your home where you will not be disturbed. Carve out a special place just for meditating and return there each time you practice.

3. Start with focusing on your breathing. Take long easy breaths in and long easy breaths out. Keep your attention on the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen.

4. If your attention wanders simply bring it back to your breathing. 5. Remember to take slow and natural breaths. This is meant to be very relaxing.

6. If you fall asleep, that is okay. When you wake up continue where you left off. It simply means your body is taking what it needs at the moment, rest.

7. Start out with five to fifteen minutes and work your way up to twenty minutes a day.

8. First thing in the morning is the best time to do your meditation. Wake up ten minutes early tomorrow. This is a wonderful way to start the day.

Keep in mind that there is no wrong way to meditate. “The correct way is the one that works for you,” say Dr. Phillipo. Simply take the time to relax, reset and unwind your mind.