I lead individuals or groups in guided meditations specially tailored to their needs.
Healthcare professionals are finally acknowledging the benefits of holistic health, including the mind-body connection. Guided meditation and mindfulness practices can bring mental benefits of stress and anxiety relief, improved coping skills, and anger management which in turn lead to improved physical health. I have personally experienced the benefits of meditation in relieving anxiety, depression, substance abuse and PTSD related symptoms. I have also witnessed first hand the benefits of meditation for individuals with anxiety, depression, ADD and Autism.
Click the buttons below to listen to the Relax and Revitalize or Safe Place meditations I offer free on Insight Timer. Often when your body relaxes, your mind can follow. Once relaxed, you are in an optimal state to heal and revitalize. In the Relax and Revitalize practice, I help you release stress from your body and mind with breathing and physical relaxation techniques. I then guide you through a brief visualization of absorbing healing and energy from nature. The Safe Place practice is a guide to creating a safe place in your mind's eye, where you can go to rest when you're external reality is overwhelming.
Some terms and techniques for those new to meditation:
A technique of focusing your attention inward to rest your mind and attain a higher state of consciousness. Meditation involves giving your full attention to a specific target (your breathing, for example), while accepting and letting go of all other internal and external thoughts and distractions. Meditation has been scientifically proven to have many benefits including increased immune function, increased positive emotion, decreased depression, anxiety and stress, increased social connection & emotional intelligence, and increased focus and attention. There are many different ways to meditate. It would be a good idea to try several and keep with it for a while because many people find that they require some time and practice meditating before it starts to feel more comfortable and they experience improvements and increased benefits over time.
Mindfulness can be done in many different ways. It has to do with paying attention to one thing and being in the here and now. Most mindfulness practices involve focusing on a physical aspect, like your breathing or your heartbeat. It can even be more specific, like focusing on the way the air feels on your nostrils as you breathe. Mindfulness can also be done while walking by focusing on something like the sensations on your feet. Or you can practice mindfulness by interacting with a challenging natural environment like the ocean or a rocky walk. You will notice your mind pulling your attention into thoughts or narratives, this is part of the practice. Every time you notice that your mind has taken over and move back into mindfulness, you have successfully strengthened your ability to take charge when unhelpful thoughts show up.
Taking slow, deliberate, and large breaths to increase oxygen flow to the body and create relaxation and increase lung capacity. One technique is to breath in through your nose to a count of four, hold the breath to a count of seven and exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of eight. The longer exhale stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers the "rest and relax" state in your body.
Taking breaths that use your entire lung capacity, including the lower lobes of your lungs. Breaths taken while abdominal breathing are slow and deep. They take longer to inhale and exhale and thus deliver more oxygen to the bloodstream and eliminate more carbon dioxide. The diaphragm and abdominal muscles pull down on the abdominal cavity to fully inflate the lungs. Your stomach will visibly expand while your chest will expand very little.
I find this helpful with physical symptoms of mental states, like back pain due to anxiety. Start by identifying the sensation you are going to focus on. Ex: jaw tension, neck pain, chest tightness, numbness. Notice every aspect of the feeling- where exactly does it start and end, does the intensity vary and how, could you assign this feeling a color and a texture. Notice what happens while you do this. Often the feeling changes or moves. You may also have thoughts of a memory or see images in your mind's eye. Observe these and explore the possibility that your body may be trying to tell you something. Remember to keep breathing. *If you experience panic attacks, don't do this for the first time during a panic. Try it during a time you are more in control and then decide if it works for you and if it would be helpful during a panic attack or not.
Visualization or Imagery
Imagining yourself accomplishing a goal or facing a fear. An example of would be imagining yourself succeeding at a difficult task before you attempt it, or imagining being able to see all of the muscles in your hand tensing and relaxing. What the mind can visualize, they body can accomplish. If you have childhood trauma, a helpful visualization can be to see your adult self stepping in and caring for you childhood self.
A verbal guide to an imaginary thought or image that provides a pleasurable experience for an individual, or as a means of visualizing other possibilities. For example, imagining exploring a beautiful island in the clouds being described to you by a guide or recording.
A relaxation technique of progressively tensing and/or relaxing groups of muscles throughout the body. Do this by tensing a specific muscle group for 5-7 seconds and then relaxing for 15-20 seconds until the muscle group feels relaxed, or by scanning your body head to toe and relaxing each muscle group as you scan.
Being One With Nature
Feeling a sense of connection, belonging and appreciation through spending time out in a natural environment and observing your surroundings. Studies have shown that spending time in nature or viewing scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, and a feeling of meaningfulness. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
Listening to sounds of nature such as ocean waves, forest sounds, or a rain storm to help you relax and slow your mind. Your brain uses the sounds of your surroundings to decide if you are safe or not and if it should be in a state of alert or relaxation. Since it is our original, natural environment, most people will feel safe and relaxed by gentle sound of nature. Environmental sounds also help you narrow your attention because humans are genetically programmed to find water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and sounds and distracted from our pain and discomfort.
Meditation is empowering because it builds your ability to reduce symptoms of anxiety and negative or obsessive thinking. Although you would surely benefit from working with a practitioner, this is a tool you can access on your own. There are thousands of apps and online resources you can access and use in the comfort of your home. Some of my favorites are: Headspace (mindfulness practice), Insight Timer App (every kind of meditation imaginable), or searching Youtube for something specific. Seek the help of a psychotherapist if you wish to try meditations that might trigger past traumas or fears.