Imagine this: you’re sitting at the top of a mountain, overlooking all of the incredible scenery below you. You feel the grass beneath your feet, the wind in your hair, the sun on your face. Take a second to really breathe in the fresh mountain air. You look down and see a family of ants carrying away the last crumbs of your lunch. You close your eyes, and everything seems perfect in that moment.
Spending time in nature does wonderful things for our overall wellbeing. Simply taking ourselves out of the busy city life – even for a moment – can help reduce stress levels and add a sense of peace to a hectic day. More and more people are realizing that a simple 10 minute daily “mountain” meditation can help them better deal with the stressors of everyday life. While this can be done in the comfort of your own home, the benefits are enhanced when mediation is practiced in nature.
Beginning a Meditation Practice
Medication can be as basic or advanced as you want it to be. When you think of meditation, what do you imagine? Often people imagine sitting cross-legged, attempting to banish all thoughts from their mind. In reality, meditation involves training the mind in a way that can improve focus and concentration. Many people practice meditation to reduce stress and anxiety, promote a more positive outlook, improve quality of life and practice self-discipline.
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A simple meditation practice can be as short as ten minutes. It is a wonderful way to begin your day and promote a positive outlook for the tasks ahead. This can be done in the comfort of your own home, but it is especially beneficial while walking through a natural area.
Find a place that speaks to you – somewhere that is devoid of any other human presence. Sit or lay in a comfortable position; bringing a small cushion with you can help. Breathe in slowly and deeply, and then exhale slowly. Really try to focus on your breath, and try to let thoughts pass through your mind without focusing on any of them. The trick is learning to view these thoughts from afar without letting them affect you. If you are distracted, try to bring yourself back to the present by focusing on your breath.
This can also be accomplished by counting to a certain number, repeating a mantra, listening to meditative music, or focusing on a particular point. Choose whatever works for you, and try to do this for ten minutes. It may be difficult at first, but with practice, you will find that you can easily slip into this meditative state for even longer.
Benefits of Meditation
So much technology surrounds us on a daily basis that it is far too easy to get lost scrolling on your phone for hours. Many of us are juggling far too many responsibilities. It can be difficult to direct your focus to one particular task. By practicing meditation – especially when focusing on the breath – it helps mold the brain to better focus on anything you set your mind to.
Research has found that breathing exercises affect the levels of a chemical in the brain known as noradrenaline. This particular chemical releases when you feel curious challenged or focused. When it releases at the right levels, it can help the brain develop new connections and improve overall brain health. Studies show that mindfulness meditation can help improve overall attention both short and long term.1
One of the main reasons people begin to practice meditation is to reduce the levels of stress and anxiety in everyday life. Rumination can be extremely debilitating, and it can be very difficult to break away from the cycle of negative thoughts. Practicing “mountain” meditation allows you to remove yourself from these thoughts and view them from an outside perspective. With practice, you can even change these negative thoughts into positive ones. In addition to reducing negative thoughts and negative feelings, meditation can improve your ability to relax.
Many studies test the effects of meditation on levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. A recent study published in 2018 tested the effects of an online mindfulness intervention. Those who completed the program reported significantly lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.2
Boost Self Awareness
We often let our own needs and desires fall by the wayside. Work, family, relationships and other responsibilities often come first. Sometimes we need to sit back and really focus on ourselves. When you take the time to meditate, you allow yourself to really view your thoughts from an outside perspective. This can give us new insights into our deepest needs, fears, and desires; aspects of ourselves that we often overlook.
Benefits of Mountain Meditation
The Japanese practice of forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-Yoku, is essentially spending mindful time in a forested area. Forest bathing greatly improves both physical and mental health, and even a short walk through nature can improve overall wellbeing. Opening your eyes after practice can remind you of all of the things you still need to get accomplished. If the first thing you see is your to-do list, you may lose that peaceful state of mind.
Now think about this: you have just finished your ten-minute meditation, and you open your eyes to see a beautiful stream. Perhaps you see a bird flying or hear the hoot of an owl. By allowing yourself time in nature, you can extend your meditation practice beyond your breathing exercises. Simply breathing in the fresh air of the mountains can continue to ground you and prepare you for the day ahead.
When you finally leave the mountains and continue on to work or other tasks of the day, there are ways to easily bring yourself back into that state of mind. By carrying a personal diffuser such as Forest or Mountain, you can take a second to breathe in all of those beneficial terpenes you experienced earlier. The calming scents can help ease your stress, improve your focus and keep you motivated – until the next time you’re able to get outside.