Health Tip #4. Meditate.
Just as physical movement is important (see Tip #5) in maintaining good health, so is slowing down. Sounds contradictory right? But what we mean is slowing down your brain, calming your mental buzz, silencing what I call “monkey brain” (“I need to do this and that and call him and email her and make sure so and so is taken care of and pay this bill…” you know the chatter).
Why is this important for health? In Traditional Chinese Medicine terms, overthinking and overstimulating our brains depletes Qi in the same way as exercising too much or eating too little. Sufficient Qi is required for every bodily function – when Qi is depleted, we feel exhausted, lazy, and depressed. Meditation is an excellent way to quiet your thoughts. And meditating is really easy to do. All you need is a quiet room, a comfortable chair (or couch or bed), and a tool that is repetitive. The tool can be a simple mantra that you repeat over and over in your head (“Patience, compassion, love; patience, compassion, love"; etc), counting your breaths as you breathe deeply, a CD with a more formal, guided meditation, or music with a simple, repetitive beat. If you are new to meditation, it’s wise to start with short sessions (eg 5 minutes), during which you really concentrate on clearing your mind. If a nagging thought enters, visualize writing it on a piece of paper and throwing it away. Once you are able to maintain a quiet brain for 5 minutes, try to add 5 more. Keep going as long as you feel comfortable and calm. If you fall asleep, all the better – you probably deserved that nap!
Make meditating part of your daily routine - even the busiest person can find 5 minutes in their day to introduce this practice. I suggest doing it first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed at night - this is easier for most people to integrate into their schedule. Once you are more familiar with the practice, you can use it at other times during your daily routine, too - especially when you feel stressed or feel a flare-up of chronic pain.