Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - 41

"It has a very long history of use to
help people become calm and have
physical relaxation," says Wen Chen,
PhD, acting branch chief of NCCIH's
Basic and Mechanistic Research in
Complementary and Integrative Health.
The benefits don't stop at relaxation,
either. Research suggests that meditation may reduce blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, anxiety
and depression, and insomnia.
Read on to learn how to start your
own mindfulness meditation practice.

Find a quiet
place.

Meditation is all about focusing on the mind and body, but that's
hard to do if you're busy worrying
about street noise from outside or
the dings and chirps from your phone.
So silence all devices and seek a quiet
space where you can begin your practice with as few distractions as possible. "You want to have a quiet moment
so you can focus on the inner body,"
Chen says.

Get
comfortable-
literally.

Find a position that works for you. That
may be a seated, cross-legged position,
but it doesn't have to be. You can also
lie down or even walk around while
meditating. "Meditation is not really
about how you sit," Chen says. "It's just
so you feel comfortable so you don't
feel distracted by the discomfort."

Focus.

Even in a quiet place and
in a comfortable position,
being mindful and focusing your attention can seem daunting at first. But

WHEN TECHNOLOGY

CAN HELP YOU RELAX

Technology may not seem to go hand
in hand with meditation. But there are
plenty of apps with soothing-sounding
names aimed at helping you find a
moment of peace.
Here are a few of the free mindfulness apps on the market:
3 Aura. This app has short guided
meditation sessions and allows you to
track your mood and learn about your
emotional patterns.
3 Calm. With programming for all
levels-whether you're a mindfulness
newbie or guru-this app includes topics ranging from happiness and forgiveness to nonjudgment and body scan.

3 Headspace. Want a personalized
progress page to track your stats, such
as average duration of meditation? This
app has it, along with a buddy system
so you and your friends can motivate
each other.
3 Insight Timer. This app has more
than 4,500 free guided meditations and
750 free music meditation tracks.
3 Omvana. This app features a
variety of meditation experts and
meditations that range from three
minutes in length to one hour, plus a
background music mixer to personalize the soundtrack for your meditation practice.

WEBSITE

there are plenty of ways to sharpen
your focus. "Sometimes people focus
on chosen words" or phrases, Chen
says. "Many forms of meditation ask
people to focus on the sensation of
breath." Another option is to focus on
your body, slowly scanning from head
to toe.

Don't be so hard
on yourself.

As you're meditating, you
will get distracted-and that's OK. "It's
very hard to focus on one thing for
a long time," Chen says. Sometimes
people get stressed out because they
are distracted, but it's important to
accept that the mind will wander, and
that's fine. "Let the distractions come
and go naturally without saying, 'Oh
darn,'" Chen says. "You don't need to
be judgmental."

Make Time for
Mindfulness
For more on the benefits of
mindfulness, go to uvahealth.
com/bemoremindful.

Keep at it.

"It's one thing to do meditation once in your lifetime,"
Chen says. "It's another thing to do it
every single day." So, to make the most
of meditation, carve out some time
every week and make it a habit. The
payoff? Studies suggest that regular
meditation may change parts of the
brain that are responsible for everything from memory to fear. ■

WIN TE R 2017

41


http://uvahealth.com/bemoremindful http://uvahealth.com/bemoremindful

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia

Contents
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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Contents
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