Muay Thai fighter Koi Koi taking time out to smell the flowers…literally.
Most of us aren’t raised to sit and say “Om.” But meditation has converted millions, helping them ease chronic pain, anxiety, stress, improve heart health, boost mood and immunity. Any condition that’s caused or worsened by stress can be alleviated through meditation, says cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD, well known for three decades of research into the health effects of meditation. He is the founder of the Mind/Body Institute at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
As a Muay Thai fighter, Koi has learned that it’s not only for self defense, but also for physical and moral well being. It is a good martial art technique that induces fear in the minds of others which is why scores of children and women are learning this invaluable Thai combat sport. This martial art teaches virtues such as compassion, patience, endurance, gratitude and honesty.
Yet, even Koi knows when it’s time to stop and take a moment to breathe. Here she is after a hike in the fresh crisp air of Jasper National Park, Canada. She understands our bodies and most importantly our minds need to rest and recharge. The best way to do this is to start with our breath. It’s imperative in meditation to learn how to breathe. Fill up the lungs, expand them and deflate, expelling the negative energy with a full breath. This process slows down the mind and brings clarity. The soothing power of repetition is at the heart of meditation. Focusing on the breath, ignoring thoughts, and repeating a word or phrase – a mantra – creates the biological response of relaxation.
In meditation, you connect with your true self. You’ll become more aware of who you really are, and can tune into your intuition and your true feelings, including the way your body responds to the situations you face. As you develop more self-awareness, you’ll make better choices in life and this leads to a life of more comfort. When you connect to that deepest part of you, you access more energy, creativity and inner awareness – your natural state of being.
The most simple way to meditate for beginners:
- Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair.
- Close your eyes.
- Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage and belly. Make no effort to control your breath; simply focus your attention. If your mind wanders, simply return your focus back to your breath. Maintain this