Meditation for Beginners

Meditation for beginners

Meditation can be hard to embrace in our fast paced, technology driven world.   It requires so much stillness, quiet, and concentration that many people think it’s not even worth it to try. However, meditation has been shown to change the brain in a way that makes it easier for you to access a better state of emotional health.

What Exactly Is Meditation?

Buddhism places great value on the practice of meditation. According to the religion, it is the greatest thing you can do for yourself as it’s the best medicine for sorrow, fear, anxiety, and other ailments that commonly afflict the human condition. Meditation is essentially a means to transform the mind. Regular meditation helps you learn the patterns of your mind and helps you find a clearer, less negative way of living.

Now How Exactly Do I Meditate?

The first step is to set a good attitude towards meditation. Much like setting a tone of friendliness towards another person, we garner the ability to feel acceptance when we feel friendly or kind towards something. If you can’t accept the idea of meditation, it’s going to be harder to achieve a meditative state. Remember that there is no “right way” to meditate; let your practice be what it is on any given day.

Set a time that’s best for you to meditate. Morning is usually the best time because you’re fresh from sleep and your mind isn’t overloaded from a day at work or school.   However, if you can’t consistently practice in the morning, it’s best to choose another time of day where you’re usually able to devote some uninterrupted time.   Next, choose how long you want to meditate. A shorter duration of time is easier to devote yourself to when you’re just starting out. Dedicate a space to your practice.   Make it peaceful and fill it with things that bring you peace and contentment.

As you sit in an upright, comfortable position, embrace your “natural presence” which is just recognizing what is going on around you and accepting any feelings or experiences without judgement or resistance. Let what is be what it is. Awaken all of your senses, listening to sounds within and outside of your body. Feel the air on your skin and the breath moving throughout your body. Select an “anchor” that you can bring yourself back to as your mind wanders. The breath is the easiest anchor as you can draw yourself to the sound or sensation of it. Set an intention for that day’s practice.   Do you want to calm anxiety? Bring joy to your day?   As your mind settles, it will embrace this intention and allow you to be in the moment.

Benefits of Meditation

Previous studies have shown that meditation changes the structure of the brain and its benefits aren’t just from a state of relaxation. Participants in the study had MRIs done two weeks before and after they participated in an eight week meditative workshop. The MRI images focused on areas of the brain where meditation-caused differences were seen in earlier studies. After the workshop, the images showed differences in grey-matter density in places in the brain like the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning. Decreased grey-matter density was seen in areas of the brain that are responsible for decreasing stress, anxiety, and depressive disorders.

The neuroscientist on staff for the study stated that, “Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.” Participants reported that they felt significant improvements in their memory, sense of self, stress levels, and ability to feel empathy for others.

Meditation may take a while to master but the results are immeasurable in overall mental and emotional well being. If you’re experiencing significant amounts of stress, suffering from depression, or want to sharpen your mental focus, partaking in a regular meditative practice may be just what you need.

Pimm’s Summer Cocktail

Ingredients
1-2 bottles Pimm’s No. 1 Liqueur
1 2-Liter of Sprite
1 2-Liter of Ginger Ale
Strawberry slices
Cucumber slices, thin
Mint leaves
Ice Cubes
Instructions
Pour all the liquids in to a dispenser.  1 bottle of Pimm’s makes for a very weak alcoholic beverage, 2 bottles makes for (obviously) a stronger alcoholic beverage so use 1-2 bottles as you desire.
Add strawberry slices, thin slices of cucumber, and mint leaves to the punch.
Add ice cubes or pour over ice.
Traditionally, this summer drink also has orange slices and will use lemonade instead of sprite and ginger ale.  However, this is our family recipe that makes for a popular refreshing summer cocktail.

5 Attractions You Have to See For Yourself in the United States

A guest post by Jennifer Gilligan.

Author Bio: Jennifer is a freelance writer who enjoys hanging out with her over-sized pup on the weekends. Often times, she can be found at the beach running amok with the mutt when she doesn’t have a pen and paper in her hand.  Meet her here.

No matter where you live in the country, there’s something to see. Whether you’re going on a road trip or just looking for an idea for this weekend, check out these attractions that you have to see for yourself.

The Grand Canyon

Image via The Charming

I’m sure your friends have said it, and I’m sure you’ve heard it from other people in your life as well, but it’s true — pictures can not, and will never do justice to the Grand Canyon. Travel to the South rim and pay for parking, make your way up to the edge, and just admire nature’s work. The Grand Canyon spans over 200 miles and, at some points, is 15 miles across. Just be careful not to lean too far over — it’s a long way down.

Walt Disney World

Bored this weekend? Why not hop on a United Airlines flight and go to Disney World? Grab a two day parkhopper pass and visit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Go on a safari and spot wild animals, scream your head off on Space Mountain, go to another world on Star Tours, or play Toy Story Mania. No matter what you do, there’s an attraction for everyone. For added fun, go on the Keys to the Kingdom tour. In this tour, you’ll learn all about Disney World, why things are set up the way they are, the back story behind a lot of things, and more. You’ll even go underground to the rarely seen Utilidoors, an entire underground area for employees only. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, unless you live near Orlando, in which case, you’re probably already an annual passholder.

SeaWorld

After spending some time at Disney World, you’ll need to wind down a bit. Why not head over to SeaWorld? SeaWorld Orlando recently opened their renovated arctic section, so you can get up close with penguins. After spending some quality time with the penguins, check out the One Ocean show featuring Shamu, after the show, grab some dinner with the whales with Dine with Shamu! Seeing how well the whales are trained is truly amazing.

Niagra Falls

If you find yourself near New York, but you’ve grown bored of Times Square, head over to Niagra Falls. Hop on board the Maid of the Mist and get up close and personal with the huge waterfall. After you’ve had your fill, cross the border over to The True North and take in sites from another land.

Hawaii Outdoor Guides

If you can manage to survive the long plane ride to Hawaii, hire a Hawaii Outdoor Guide. The guides will let you experience the beaches, temples, waterfalls, hot pools, and the Volcanoes National Park. You’ll hike, walk on lava, and snorkel, all while enjoying everything Hawaii has to offer.

If you’re looking for something to do or somewhere to go this weekend, try one (or all) of these suggestions. What’s your favorite thing to do on a weekend getaway? Where do you like to go?

What I’m Loving in May 2013

From top to bottom, left to right:

Samsung Galaxy S4.  I love my new phone.  I’ve had an iPhone since 2008, I was getting so tired of it.  Fortunately, Samsung has really become a top contender in the market (outselling Apple in 2012) and has really been creating quality products, like this S4.  I can give you so many reasons I love it more than the iPhone…. but I’ll just stick with saying it’s amazing and I love it.

This ASOS dress.  I got this dress for my graduation and I love it so much.  I got a size larger because I don’t like skin tight, but it’s so flattering and relatively modest.  And, as much as I dislike the color blue, I love this shade.

Ikea.  I love Ikea.  My mom and I headed over for some swedish meatballs (with cranberry and gravy — superb) and a little shopping.  I’d been looking for some bedroom furniture to match our bed and, of course, Ikea had some great options at a wonderful price.  And I’ve never had a problem with the “quality” of their furniture.  I’ve had a few pieces for a few years now.  Love them.

So Delicious Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Yogurt, Vanilla flavor.  We are trying to go dairy-free and gluten-free in our house and Mr. Charming and I have found quite a few alternatives that we love.  For my yogurt and snacking fix?  This yogurt.  It’s so yummy and refreshing!

Nude nail polish.  I’m totally in to this look right now.  I rarely put color on my nails to begin with, so this nude makes me feel all dolled up and it’s a great shade.

Game of Thrones.  Team Targaryen.  You have to watch/read it to understand.

DIY “Bright Ideas” Stocking Stuffer

Happy December!
To kick off the month, I’m featuring an easy, super affordable DIY stocking stuffer!
Happy Crafting, friends!
Baker’s twine, washi tape, and gift wrap items courtesy of Bahana Splits Boutique.
You will need:
– a lightbulb container, I found mine from Hobby Lobby for like $1
– a computer and printer
– optional: embellishments
Directions:
1. Search for quotes, facts, or write personal love/inspiration notes.
2. Print them off, cut them out, fold them, and stuff them in the bottle.
3. Decorate & enhance with fun items such as baker’s twine, washi tape, and assorted paper products.
Bahana Splits Boutique has such a great selection of items for all sorts of packaging and gift wrapping needs.  And for The Charming Holiday magazine readers, you get a special discount for the holiday season!