DR. WALLACE: I have been hearing from several of my friends about the benefits of meditating and how it can help you calm down and make you feel better in many aspects of life. Well, with all that is going on in the world these days, I sure could use something to help me feel calmer and more in control of things!
I'm only 16, and sometimes, my mind races, and I worry about a lot of things that I really have no control over, like COVID-19, social unrest and if our country could get involved in a really big war. Could meditation help me to calm my mind down? I sure would enjoy being able to stop worrying so much. Exactly how does meditation work, and is it safe for someone my age? — Seeking Peace and Calm, via email
SEEKING PEACE AND CALM: This is indeed an interesting topic! Over the years, I've read many research reports on the subject of meditation, including several that looked at brain scans of people before and after they participated in specific courses on mindful meditation that lasted from a few weeks up to several months. As revealed through neuroimaging, parts of the participants' brains associated with compassion and self-awareness grew, and parts associated with stress shrank.
Meditation works by providing a platform to clear your mind and help calm an individual down. Focused "attention meditation" is a popular type of meditation many beginners find helpful. It works via the concentration of your attention on a single object, thought, sound or visualization. It emphasizes ridding your mind of attention and distractions. This type of meditation usually focuses on breathing, a mantra or a calming sound.
Many people of various nationalities find meditation to be an effective way to live a happier life, reduce stress, control anxiety, increase self-awareness and improve sleep. Some even claim regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness. All ages of people can try meditation, and at 16, you should be quite self-aware and able to understand and potentially benefit from it. You can seek out organized courses in meditation in your local area, but to start with, I'll provide you a quick meditation guide for beginners:
— Sit or lie comfortably. You may want to use a chair that is comfortable or a cushion for your head.
— Close your eyes.
— Make no effort to control your breath; simply breathe naturally.
— Focus your attention on your breath and how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
— Commit to meditating for at least two minutes once or twice a day to begin with. You can gradually increase the time and frequency as you become more comfortable meditating.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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