Build New Neural Pathways and Reduce Stress

by Joy Rains
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Got Stress? Try Meditation. 

If you think you can’t meditate since your brain doesn’t shut down, don’t let this common meditation myth deter you from practicing. Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts, but rather it’s about becoming aware of them, so you can choose to respond to life consciously rather than react unconsciously.

To develop a meditation habit, choose a regular place to practice, whether it’s an entire room or simply a favorite chair. Start with two to three minutes a day and gradually increase your practice time to 15-20 minutes a day as you get used to meditating.

To start, sit comfortably on a chair or floor cushion. Keep your spine straight, without being rigid. Close your eyes. Try to relax your body while keeping your mind alert.

Choose a neutral focal point such as your breath, or a word you silently repeat, or a repetitive sound (such as ocean waves), or a smooth stone that you hold in your hand. Bring your awareness to your focal point and then notice when your attention wanders away from your focal point. When you notice your attention has wandered, gently bring it back to your focal point. This is how you’ll spend your entire practice time.

New meditators may find their minds wander as often as every second or two. It’s the nature of the mind to wander.. Remember, meditation isn’t about stopping thoughts—it’s about noticing your thoughts. The repetitive action of bringing your attention back to your focal point builds new neural pathways in your brain. It’s like you’re building your mind’s muscle, as you build awareness and enhance your ability to respond to life consciously.

Joy Rains
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