Body & Mind

Mindfulness and Mental Health

If you do yoga, have a meditation practice, attend sound baths or partake in any kind of energy healing sessions, you know that you truly do feel better afterwards.

Why is that?

These relaxation techniques hold a common denominator – mindfulness of your breath.  You move from shallow breathing to intentional breathing where you lengthen your inhales and exhales through your nose.

When you breathe intentionally like this, your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in.  When you activate your parasympathetic nervous system, your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure lowers.  This is opposite of your sympathetic nervous system which oversees your “fight or flight” (stress) response.

Your body enters into a state of relaxation when your parasympathetic nervous system is working, and during this time, this level of calm promotes recovery. 

What’s beautiful is that your brain is affected as well.  When you are focused on your breath, either in movement or stillness, you are training your brain to be in the present moment.  I’m sure you’ve all heard the term “monkey mind”.  Truly, if we let our brains have their way, wow, their job is to THINK, and they are so very good at that task!!  But just as we train our muscles to be strong, we must also train our brain so that we can be more focused and clear, and ultimately reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

Our brain can very well be a source of our own suffering.  Which is why practicing mindfulness is such an empowering practice to embrace.  When we are focused on the present moment, we cannot possibly be able to fret over the past or worry about what’s to come.  We are in the here and now.

Training the brain is just like training the muscle in the sense that you need to commit to the work on a regular schedule.  For example, if you were to lift weights or practice yoga only once a month, that unfortunately won’t offer the same benefits as if you did those exercises, say, twice a week.  You have to commit to putting the effort in to reap the rewards.  But just like preparing to run a marathon, it’s wise to start out small and grow from there.  Perhaps you set a timer to 2 minutes, find a comfortable position for your body, and follow each breath in and out of your nose for that duration.  Or maybe you find a guided meditation that you resonate with.  You can explore and see what works best for you!  If you don’t know where to start, you can always try my White Lights guided meditation at this link:  https://youtu.be/bg3hMBHNTJE?si=fk4uw13X9RPOxImk

I know for myself, the more consistently I meditate and/or practice yoga, the more even-keeled I feel.  These practices help to reduce activity in the limbic system (a part of the brain that assists in processing emotions).  As emotional reactivity diminishes, you will have far more grace available when faced with a stressful situation.

Mindfulness, whichever way you choose to incorporate it, will boost your Mental Health.  Even if you need someone to help hold you accountable to do your Mindfulness practice, there’s nothing wrong with creating community around it.  And you might even inspire someone else to begin their own journey into mindfulness as well!  It’s too important not to embrace the most productive way that is the best fit for YOU.

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