Get Help From 5-Minute Meditations
Posted 9/27/2016 by UHBlog
Looking for a great stress buster that does not involve gym shoes, expensive equipment or alcoholic beverages? Then mindfulness meditation is for you.
“There are many wonderful mindfulness meditation practices that can help us cultivate greater ease in our day-to-day lives,” says mindfulness coordinator Suzanne Cushwa Rusnak, MEd, MSSA. “Mindfulness is a training in awareness that helps people recharge themselves mentally, emotionally and physically. By paying careful attention to their inner and outer selves, individuals live more fully and less on ‘automatic pilot,’ thus, being more present in their own lives.”
According to Rusnak, when you develop the habit of practicing mindfulness meditation, you learn to appreciate the simplest things in your everyday life.
“By intentionally focusing on the present moment – what your direct experience is – you’re not lost in thought about the future or the past,” she says. “When practicing mindfulness meditation, the stresses associated with the past or the future are not on your mind. You are actually living the moment you are in.”
The benefits of mindfulness meditation include:
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Creates a sense of well-being
- Helps decrease high blood pressure
- Prevents relapse of depression
- Lowers sensitivity to pain
Learning how to incorporate mindfulness moments in your day takes practice, Rusnak says.
“You can do purposeful pre-planned mindfulness meditations of 15 minutes or more a day – and you can also have moments of mindfulness throughout the day when you are standing in line at the grocery store, waiting in traffic, during an office break or washing your hands,” she says. “The important thing is to tune into what you’re noticing with your senses, and feeling the flow of your breath as it comes and goes from your body. When you notice the mind wandering into thought, just gently guide it back to the senses and the breath.”
Resnak recommends using these simple mindfulness meditation techniques:
- Become relaxed. Be as comfortable as you can be. Relax any areas of tightness or tension. If you’re sitting in a chair, try to keep your back as straight as possible without tensing up, and keep both feet on the ground. Make sure your shoulders, neck and jaw are relaxed and do a quick mental scan of the rest of your body to check for any pockets of tension.
- Focus on your breathing. Feel the natural flow of your breath right now. Breathe in, breathe out. When one breath ends, feel the next breath begin. Feel the breath in your body. Don’t try to change or adopt any pattern of breathing that feels unnatural.
- Notice your attention. It's only natural for your mind to wander. Gently redirect your attention back to your breathing. It doesn’t matter how often this happens, simply bring your mind back to your breathing and focus on each inhale and exhale.
“This process gets easier the more you practice it,” Rusnak says.
- Experience your senses. In mindfulness meditation, you can freely experience the sensory world around you through seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling the inner rhythm of your body.
Although mindfulness meditation can be done individually, Rusnak, who teaches mindful meditation classes at various locations within the UH system and in the community, finds most people do better in group meditation settings.
“Group discussion helps participants become more comfortable with mindfulness meditation techniques and provides a sense of community and support,” she says.
University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network offers mindfulness programs at multiple locations throughout the year, including at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Parma Health Education Center. You'll learn how to create an ongoing mindfulness practice and techniques to use in various situations. Additionally, you'll receive a journal/workbook and a CD. To learn more about UH Connor Integrative Health Network’s mindfulness programs, call 216-285-4070 or visit us online.
Suzanne Cushwa Rusnak, MEd, MSSA is the coordinator of mindfulness programming at UH Connor Integrative Health Network. You can request an appointment with Rusnak or any other health care provider online.