A guide to Meditation February 02 2017
Meditation has evolved into being one of those activities many of us know we should do, yet we don't. It's like eating a lot of vegetables, getting regular exercise, or filing your taxes on time. It all sounds so simple, but getting around to it can just somehow feel hard. The good news is that until you get into a regular routine of finding time to sit in silence and meditate, there are many apps and websites out there to help you on your journey!
But the question is why should you make time to meditate? Sure, you have heard that it's relaxing, but what is it really good for? Turns out, the list is actually very long!
Scientific literature has made excellent strides in collecting a huge amount of evidence for the benefits of meditation. Meditation practices have shown to help patients with many health concerns such as Parkinson's disease, low back pain, Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and stress, just to name a few. The benefits of meditation extend beyond health concerns. An article that was recently making the rounds on social media described how an elementary school in Baltimore is now using meditation instead of detention and having incredible results.
Even if you aren't living with a chronic diagnosed condition, chances are you have at least some level of stress in your life. Stress can have a negative impact on basically all of our body systems, from our gut to our hormones and even our skin! For example, periods of elevated stress can trigger episodes of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
Personally, meditation has helped me to better control my emotions which has had a ripple effect in many areas of my life: better relationships with others and more stable and consistent confidence and love for myself.
There are many different websites and apps for meditation but these are my three favourites:
1. I love the website http://dharma.org/. I tend to spend most of my time in the 'audio' section where you can listen to guided meditations, general talks and podcasts.
2. I'm a huge fan of Tara Brach, a meditation teacher from the United States, who has written some amazing books, like Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha. There are lots of ways to access her work, you can even search for her name in Youtube and find many of her talks for free. I find her approach very grounding, accessible and inspiring...and she can also be pretty funny! Some of her work can also be found in the free app called Sounds True (which is another fave for me).
3. Just as I was starting Naturopathic Medical school a few years ago I downloaded the app called Buddhify. It is a simple to use, beautifully designed app. The main page is a colourful wheel with different guided meditation topics focused on everyday life activities. I especially love the ones for stress, falling asleep and walking in the city.
The nice thing about guided meditations is that if you don't have time to sit down and meditate, just throw it on while you're doing activities like cooking or during your commute. The teachings can help you to feel grounded and at peace even when life is at it's busiest.
Sending out Mettā (loving-kindness) to you all!
Madeleine Elton is a fourth year Naturopathic Medical intern at the affordable Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic in Toronto, and is currently accepting patients. She used to work as a Registered Nurse and is passionate about helping people become the healthiest version of themselves, in a way that works for them!
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