Though our culture is fixated on efficiency at all costs, there’s a lot to be said for slowing down. Always being on the go isn’t good for your body or mind, and it can hasten burnout in the long run. If you don’t already have a meditation practice, find out why you might want to start one and why meditation can be particularly helpful during menopause.
What Happens When You Live Life in Your Head
Most of our lives take place inside our heads. When we’re doing something, we’re thinking about the next step or dwelling on a past memory that was troubling. As humans, our minds naturally wander and ruminate on things that are making us anxious. When your mind wanders, you stop living in the present and begin to imagine the future or re-live the past. This pattern feels like a way of life to many, but it can increase stress and decrease focus. If you’re unsure whether or not you live in your head, signs include losing track of time, feeling disconnected, and missing out on moments because your thoughts are preoccupied.
Getting out of Your Head and Into the Present Moment
If it feels impossible to stop your mind from wandering, that’s because you have years of practice thinking about something other than what is happening right now. Starting a meditation practice can help to counter this habit. Meditation is believed to have many benefits, including stress reduction, improved quality of sleep, diminishing pain, and improving your attention span. But the Mayo Clinic also says that meditation may alleviate certain health conditions that are exacerbated by stress. These conditions include anxiety, depression, cancer, and more.
Meditation Is Especially Beneficial During Menopause
During menopause, hormonal changes can cause anxiety, depression, mood swings, hot flashes, and other irritating symptoms. Studies have shown that women with high levels of mindfulness experience fewer symptoms related to menopause. Even when studied as a treatment for the effects of menopause, mindfulness was shown to help with anxiety, depression, and mood swings. A small study also showed that mindfulness might help with hot flashes.
How to Meditate
Anyone can start a meditation practice, but with all the available options and apps, the selection of a method can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t need any specific equipment to get started; you just need to find some quiet time to be alone for a few minutes each day.
There are six general types of meditation: mindfulness meditation, focused meditation, movement meditation, mantra meditation, transcendental meditation, and spiritual meditation. Body sensing and body scanning are forms of mindfulness meditation that have you sit quietly and focus on all the sensations within your body. Focused meditation occurs when you choose one (usually calming) thing to bring your attention to, like a candle flame or the sound of a gong. Yoga and tai chi are forms of movement meditation where you focus all of your attention on your posture. Mantra meditation is where you clear your mind to focus on a positive phrase or idea that you would like to embody; something like “I am calm,” or “I am on the right path.” People who practice transcendental meditation seek to go beyond the surface level of awareness to find deeper meaning. And, lastly, spiritual meditations often happen in a place of worship.
If you’re new to meditation, try to meditate just for a few minutes each day. The more you practice, the easier it will be to focus, clear your head, and live in the moment. You might find some relief from menopausal symptoms, but overall the benefits to quality of life are so worth the time.