Positively Present: The Power of Meditation
Meditation, which is the process of training the mind, has been around for thousands of years. “It involves being in the present moment, aware and open to whatever experiences arise,” says Michelle Jamieson, owner of Sierra Mindfulness in Auburn. “You learn more about your body and mind, [which leads] to wisdom, and are able to make more conscious decisions about how you act and what you say and think.” With the help of local experts, we’ve explored all aspects of meditation—from how to do it and the health benefits, to helpful tips on getting started and so much more.
Timing Is Everything
For Todd Dilbeck, MA, CMPC, owner of Positive Sport & Performance Coaching in Folsom, one of the best things about a mindfulness practice is that it’s not a huge time commitment. “Research has demonstrated that practicing a meditative exercise four times a week for three minutes at a time—just 12 minutes a week—produces neurological changes,” he says. “These changes can be documented within as little as two weeks of practice. The emotional reactive parts of the brain, as well as the negative thinking ‘loops’ begin to recede, while the regions of the brain involved in focus and positive thinking begin to thicken. This is why I refer to meditation as ‘lifting weights for the brain.’”
"A regular meditation practice offers many mental and physical health benefits, such as managing/reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, enhancing sleep, strengthening the immune system, increasing energy and creativity, improving your relationships, reversing chronic illness, and more," says Andrea Tagamolila, spa director at Serenity Spa | Soul Yoga with locations in Roseville and Folsom.
Location and Focus
According to Dilbeck, “The beauty of mindfulness is that you can do it anywhere. I typically practice at home but have also practiced at work, on airplanes, and in various public spaces. Most people have no idea when I am meditating. You don’t need to sit in a traditional pose—that is just a stereotype we have.” Since meditation has many forms, Dilbeck says you should practice the one that works for you in the moment and for the purpose you want. “Some meditations focus on specific states of being, like gratitude and compassion, while others focus on narrowing the attention on an object or sensation,” he says.
Power in Numbers
"Meditation is something that’s very personal and yet universal," says Deepak Gilra, a certified meditation instructor who runs the Folsom location of The Art of Living Foundation, a non-profit educational and humanitarian organization. You can benefit from a combination of one-on-one instruction and group sessions. “If more people meditate together, it creates a wave of positive and harmonious energy that is benevolent for the entire community,” Gilra says.
Food for Thought
A common challenge of meditation is the thoughts that pop into your head. “If you had no thoughts, you wouldn’t be living,” says Rochelle Barcellona, founder of Nourish Mind Body & Spirit in Folsom. “So, consider thoughts as visitors. They have a beginning and an end. That little space between each thought is what we consider 'the gap,’ where you can slip into pure consciousness and pure peace while meditating.” When a thought comes into your mind during meditation, Barcellona recommends recognizing it for what it is, then letting it go.
Tagamolila says the key is to be comfortable. “At any point during meditation, you can stretch your legs or arms out and reposition yourself. Just come back to the repetition of your mantra.” She also suggests letting go of any expectations during your meditation and to keep at it. “Even if it’s finding five minutes in your car before you walk into the house or work, any meditation is beneficial."
The following exercise comes from Jennifer Fiterre, the medical librarian and continuing medical education coordinator at Marshall Medical Center. “Stop what you’re doing and try to find a quiet space,” she suggests. “Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Pay attention to your inhale and exhale and try to feel the air through your nose and/or mouth. Imagine watching your thoughts come and go. Listen to your body and notice if, or where, you’re holding tension. Try to take a deeper breath at each inhale and relax though each exhale. Breathe easily and naturally. Do this for three to five minutes each day. When it’s easy for you to practice [that much], increase the time of your session."
by Kourtney Jason