By Dana Brown
If you’ve recently started meditating — or if you are experienced in your practice — you are likely aware of its superb benefits. From feeling more relaxed to enhancing your creativity, this ancient art is brimming with advantages for both body and mind. As your practice continues to evolve, it is worthwhile to consider making enhancements that can elevate each session.
528Universe shares their favorite tips for getting the most out of your home meditation practice.
The importance of meditating in 2021
Before exploring strategies for enhancing your meditation practice, it is valuable to understand why meditation is so important in 2021.
With mental health concerns at the forefront of minds across the nation, meditation offers relief for many of these issues. In fact, studies have proven that meditation is effective in improving the symptoms of acute stress, anxiety, depression, fighting addiction, and in enhancing self-esteem. With so many stressors and concerns still lingering from the COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of yourself has never been such an essential part of your self-care routine.
Design an at-home meditation space
While it is wonderful to take time to meditate wherever you are, having a dedicated spot to meditate at home is vital. You can achieve this by selecting one specific area or room in your house or apartment, and turning it into a fresh and vibrant space. This will better allow you to relieve tension and focus on your meditation practice.
Not sure where to start? Inject positivity into your space by adding cushions, yoga mats, opening windows, cleaning, decluttering, and using an essential oil diffuser. Feel free to decorate with calming art, as well as dim lighting. Elements like these will allow you to feel more at peace, and help you stay focused on meditating.
Use the right meditation music
Not all meditation music is created equally. While many songs and playlists are labeled as being suitable for meditation, they are not specifically optimized to promote healing and peace.
Instead, the intentional use of music with binaural beats (an auditory illusion created by two specific types of tones) can significantly enhance your meditation practice, and further relieve stress. To find the right meditation music selections, be sure to explore the expert audio engineering offered by 528Universe.
Schedule meditation time in your daily routine
Instead of waiting until the mood strikes, schedule your practice in your planner or phone. If needed, set reminders for yourself. Treat meditation as seriously as you would a work meeting, time with family, or an important commitment. When you do this, you will ensure that you are reaping the full benefits of your practice.
Don’t judge your practice
As you begin to make these changes, continue to withhold any judgment. There is no such thing as “perfecting” your practice. Don’t expect that these additions will push you to an expert level. Meditation is all about helping you where you are at this moment; it isn’t something to put on display. Even if you continue to struggle with distractions or interruptions, your meditation journey will continue to shift and progress as you grow.
With life pressures at an all-time high, your meditation practice should be a key element of your self-care routine. Its proven benefits can carry you through the most challenging days, and bring you a sense of inner peace By further investing time and resources into your practice, you can feel an even greater sense of calm and stability as you move through 2021.
Have you ever given yourself a pep talk? You may not have realized it, but you were practicing a form of positive affirmation. Coping with depression can be discouraging and debilitating. Vocalizing certain phrases about yourself can provide a much-needed lift and motivate you toward positive change. Affirmations are a simple and useful tool that can help with depressive symptoms.
A positive affirmation is a self-statement that emphasizes your strengths, values, and favorable qualities. According to cognitive theory, depression is caused by distorted negative beliefs. Positive affirmations can be used to counter negative perceptions and bolster confidence in your abilities. For instance, you can replace the thought, “Nobody will ever love me” with the affirmation “I am worthy of love.” Many people who use affirmations recommend standing in front of a mirror as they repeat specific phrases to themselves, but you can perform them anywhere you feel is comfortable and effective. For increased success, it is suggested you practice your affirmations at least twice daily.
Positive affirmations have been associated with multiple factors related to the reduction of depressive symptoms. Self-affirmation has been shown to activate parts of the brain that are associated with positive self-valuation. There is also evidence that suggests that affirmation increases the neural pathways related to a person’s reward centers, which undeniably boosts your mood. Further, an affirmation can serve as a protector against stressful situations that threaten your well-being. It can also help motivate people toward healthy behavior, such as eating fruits and vegetables. Maybe most importantly, the use of affirmation has been directly linked to feelings of optimism and happiness.
Keep in mind, however, the effectiveness of positive affirmations depends on their content. You need to be able to believe in what you are saying for them to be helpful. If you tell yourself something you know is not true or is unlikely to occur, it probably won’t help.
For example, if you keep saying to yourself that you look like a supermodel or are as musically talented as Adele, you are less likely to be able to convince yourself. In addition, the above research concludes that personally relevant affirmations appear more effective. Therefore, the more specific the affirmation is to your life, the better. Finally, affirmations that focus on the future seem to be most powerful. As a result, emphasizing behavior or outcomes that you can work toward will make them more productive. It may be useful to think of an affirmation as an active roadmap for positive thoughts and behavior.
There are literally millions of possible affirmations. Here are 44 you can use that are specifically geared for dealing with depressive symptoms:
1) I have come this far and I am proud of myself.
2) This moment in my life does not define who I am.
3) My challenges bring me better opportunities.
4) My life has value and meaning.
5) These are just thoughts. Only I determine the way I choose to feel.
6) I choose to release negative feelings and thoughts about myself.
7) I will try to see the best in others.
8) I believe in who I am.
9) I am working toward making a better life.
10) I do not need to rely on others’ judgment for acceptance.
11) I do my very best and that’s enough.
12) I believe in my ability to get through this difficult period.
13) I am resilient and can handle problems that come my way.
14) I am worthy of happiness.
15) My goals are achievable.
16) Depression makes me sad, but it builds my resilience.
17) I feel low now, but tomorrow is another day.
18) Where there is life, there is hope.
19) I’m not limited to anything.
20) I love myself unconditionally, no matter how I feel.
21) I am not the first to deal with depression, and I won’t be the last.
22) Depression is just a human emotion and I am human.
23) My life is what I make it.
24) I find and enjoy the simple pleasures life is offering right now.
25) I experience depression but I can also experience joy.
26) There is nothing wrong with me because I feel sad.
27) If they can do it, there’s no reason I can’t do it.
28) I am taking control of my own mind.
29) My future is bright because I am designing it.
30) I am just as good as anyone else.
31) I am deserving of self-care.
32) My life is a gift.
33) Being depressed is not my fault.
34) I deserve love and happiness.
35) Smile and breathe.
36) I look forward to tomorrow.
37) This feeling will pass.
38) I’m okay right now.
39) I control my destiny.
40) I may be sad now, but that’s fine.
41) I am gaining strength every single day.
42) The depression I experience doesn’t define me.
43) I work on myself every day.
44) I will wake up tomorrow and do the best I can.
While the above affirmations are suitable for numerous situations, one of the strengths of using affirmation is that it can be tailored to fit any area in which you are struggling. For example, if you are lacking confidence in whether you will do well on a work presentation you could affirm “I am prepared for today’s presentation and I will be successful.” Again, the more specific an affirmation is to your particular situation, the more it will resonate with you and produce positive results. Fortunately, affirmations can be made as distinct as necessary and easily changed to fit a particular circumstance.
Practicing affirmations daily is a useful tool in the fight against depression. It can improve self-image, reduce stress, increase healthy behavior, and boost mood. It is especially effective if the affirmations are personally relevant, realistic, and future-oriented. In addition, creating and performing an affirmation is a relatively simple process that only takes a few minutes.
It should be noted, however, that affirmations are not suitable as a lone treatment for depression. Clinical depression is a serious psychological disorder that often requires professional intervention. Affirmation is most effectively used as part of a treatment protocol that may also include psychotherapy, online counseling, medication, and positive lifestyle changes. While some steps for dealing with depression can be initiated independently, such as reciting positive affirmations, the most significant improvements typically result from working with a trained professionals.
MS Broudy is a psychologist, writer, and consultant. He has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a master’s degree in Social Psychology. He has spent over 20 years providing therapy and assessment services for a diverse set of clients. MS specializes in writing about mental health, parenting, and wellness. He has his own blog, mentalspokes.com, where he writes about psychological issues.
By Dana Brown
Change can be hard for some people to embrace, but when you aren't feeling like your best self, it's important to take steps to get your life back. Certain habits like watching too much TV or staying up late can contribute to you feeling older than you are. Luckily, you can find a way back to a fresher, younger you by incorporating these easy everyday habits from 528Universe.
1. Start a New Hobby
Sticking to the same old routine may bring comfort, but learning new things can help create new connections in your brain. This process can help your brain to function like some years younger. It can even be something as simple as taking a quilting class.
2. Get Physically Active
Studies show that exercise is a simple, cost-effective method of improving overall health, physically and mentally. To see the benefits all you have to do is engage in moderately intense exercise for 30 minutes, three days a week — and it doesn't have to be continuous. That means you could go for three 10-minute walks, and it still counts.
To help motivate you to get moving, try out something like a smartwatch or fitness tracker that can track steps, monitor heart rate, detect falls and send emergency signals. This technology is not a requirement to start working out, but even investing in a simple step counter may help you to set and reach activity goals.
Strength training is also important as you age. To keep premature frailty from setting in, try taking resistance training classes. These exercises may help with balance, bone density and cognitive function.
3. Take More Probiotics
Probiotics are good bacteria for your gut. Some people mix them up with prebiotics, which are food, usually from fiber, that feed probiotics. Having good bacteria in your gut is important to help protect your body from harmful bacteria. Some foods that benefit your gut include:
• Plain yogurt with live cultures
You can also take supplements to get more probiotics in your diet. You may want to talk to a physician to ensure you get the right supplements for your needs.
4. Drink More Water
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water not only helps to regulate your body temperature, but it is also important for cushioning joints and protecting your spinal cord. If your joints are achy sometimes, taking in more water could help.
If you are finding it difficult to get the recommended amount of water each day, try drinking water at meals and get in the habit of carrying a full water bottle around with you. You can also add a lime or lemon wedge to the water for flavor. Other healthy non-water alternatives include 100% juices and fortified milk alternatives.
5. Get More Sleep
Some studies suggest that getting quality sleep and even turning in early may help to reduce the risk of disease and make you feel more productive. It is recommended that you get at least seven hours of sleep a night to enjoy such benefits as more energy and a well-rested appearance.
Some people may find it difficult to fall asleep. In such cases, turning to music or meditation, or a combination of both, can help to relax the body and mind and make it easier to sleep. Everyone is different, so it is vital to experiment and find what works for you.
Age may be a number, but it doesn't have to dictate how you feel about yourself. By incorporating a few simple everyday habits, you can shave years off how you feel. Start with one habit and build on that to reacquaint yourself with a more rejuvenated version of you.
Connect with 528Universe for more information on self-improvement, relaxation, meditation, and how to live your best life.