After my C7-8 spinal cord injury, I began a mindfulness-based meditation practice that has had a huge impact on my overall happiness. It has proven to be a healthy, effective way to manage daily stresses that fits by abilities.
I’d like to answer some common questions and offer you suggestions for implementing this practice in your own life.
What is meditation? Do you have to sit on the floor?
Meditation is a tool that has been used by humans for thousands of years to deal with stress and to train the mind. Many people have some lofty idea of what meditation is and how one should look while practicing: Legs twisted into a pretzel while they float a foot and a half off the ground basked in an angelic and set in a pristine nature environment. None of this is necessary, nor is sitting on the floor. A chair or wheelchair is an ideal place to learn to meditate as a well-fitted chair should be comfortable and optimize your posture.
What is the goal?
The goal of meditation is to calm the mind, to become more aware of patterns in your mind. Different practices build concentration, awareness, and emotional health, which are all benefits you receive in learning the process of calming the mind. A good guided meditation can encompass all of these areas with an emphasis on various aspects of life. Two suggestions to get you started are the Free guided meditations by Tara Brach or Headspace, created by Andy Puddicombe. View his TED talk below.
What are some benefits?
Mediation allows you to build an awareness and endurance of your focus that benefits many aspects of life. It has been shown to improve sleep quality, increase relationship satisfaction, lower stress and symptoms of anxiety.
How do you get started?
I hope to have piqued your interest in trying meditation out by this point and will provide several links in the resource section below for further reading and free guided meditations. I highly recommend giving yourself at least 10 days of daily practice to see if it is something you would find valuable. Some quick tips for creating a daily meditation habit:
• Find a space and time that you will not be disturbed by others. Wearing oversized headphones will get the message across if all else fails.
• Starting out in the evening can be much easier to stick to and can help you relax before bed.
• Ten to 15 minutes a day is a great starting goal.
• Don’t worry if in the beginning you feel silly. Like any skill, the more often you practice the better you will get at it and the more comfortable you will feel doing it.
Being that there are no physical requirements to begin meditating, there is little to no adaptation required, which makes it a great thing to do all on your own or with friends and family. Guided meditations are a great place to start as there is much wonderful free quality audio recording around the web.
Here is a great TED talk on mindfulness meditation and some of its benefits: