Life can be complex. As humans, we are affected by millions of pressing obstacles and influenced by varying information and mindsets. We become so clouded by information that each day, we feel outnumbered by the racing thoughts in our heads as we try to uncover answers. We navigate through the loudness of life and often feel overwhelmed. In turn, we rely on distractions to keep our internal chatter at bay. Over time, however, the stress we face with life’s busyness always finds its way to the surface. Then it often clouds our decision-making skills, health and happiness. That’s where meditation comes in.
Meditation is for those seeking a well-meaning life, both mentally and physically. It not only helps people find clarity, reduce stress and increase positive energy, but it also benefits physical health. Meditation is simple, doesn’t take too much time and can make a massive difference in your life. The benefits are seemingly endless, as researchers continue to discover new ways in which meditation can help the body and mind.
One type of meditation focuses on mindfulness, or the state of being present in a current moment. Through different studies, mindfulness practices have been found to improve sleep quality, ADHD symptoms, reduce loneliness and target stress reduction, which is linked to many leading causes of death. It has also been related to reducing depression, anxiety and pain.
A study conducted by UCLA has shown that meditation “might slow the age-related loss of gray matter in the brain.” As the brain’s size begins to wither from the process of aging, it can start to lose some functional and cognitive abilities. The study indicated promising evidence that through the simple practice of meditation, we could support the preservation of our brain and mind. A growing amount of evidence also suggests that meditation can be helpful in reducing menopausal symptoms.
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For many people, meditation means sitting still for a long period of time and chanting. Meditation encompasses many other aspects like mindfulness, compassion and focused attention. Those who practice personalize their meditation in a way that suits them best. Do you enjoy hiking or being in touch with nature? You won’t have to sacrifice your love of the outdoors in order to make time for meditation. Take your meditation outside!
Walking Meditation and Bird Sounds
If you find stillness and focusing on your breathing difficult, then try walking meditation. Walking meditation allows you to tune in to both your internal and external sensations. This enables you to focus on an experience, rather than pursuing your entire day on autopilot. You can practice walking meditation on a simple path or in the tranquility of a peaceful garden. You will want to move at a slower pace and be present as your feet take steps forward. Focusing on sensory things that you would normally take for granted, like the sounds of nature or the feeling of your feet making contact with the ground, can help you achieve a calmer state of mind.
Although the idea of walking meditation is to increase your presence and awareness, you may become distracted by the sounds of nature around you. But that’s okay! Paying closer attention to what is around you, including calming noises such as birdsongs, will help you appreciate what nature has to offer. Sound-awareness meditation can often be the easiest way to regain control over your thoughts in a constructive manner. According to a recent study, listening to bird sounds can help with stress reduction and attention fatigue. When hearing sounds, you will want to try maintaining a positive or non-judgmental viewpoint. Even trying to identify the source, such as the type of bird you may hear, will be beneficial in pursuing control over your thoughts.
Mindfulness Meditation and Bird Watching
Seeing nature’s aesthetics can help people learn how to focus their attention on positive thoughts and experiences. If you often find your mind jumping from thought to thought in a frantic and anxious manner, then mindfulness meditation would be extremely helpful. Practicing mindfulness meditation in a peaceful, outdoor environment is particularly great for beginners, as the sounds and sights around you are pleasing sensations. You can take the time to truly be present in your environment and own headspace. When outdoors, you will also have the opportunity to witness wildlife in its own habitat. According to research featured in BioScience, the act of seeing specific wildlife like birds has been linked to a decrease in depression, stress and anxiety. More research has found that listening to bird sounds contributed to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery.
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Meditation has proven to be helpful in various facets of life. Whether you are overworked, bogged down by negative thinking or need help with physical limitations, meditation can help. It can teach people how to tune into thoughts in a proactive manner without getting overwhelmed by them. Even more, continuing studies are proving the ways in which meditation can contribute to an overall healthier life.