REFLECTING ON A YEAR OF HEADSPACE The Spinal Column The Newsletter About Your Health And Caring For Your Body
My mind kept wandering to things that I needed to do, flipping between conversations that had happened the day before, the dog barking outside, my to-do-list for the upcoming weekend, it was like standing in the middle of a highway with the all the cars whizzing by all around me. Well, this is meditation. The fact that I was just becoming aware of the different thoughts that I was having and developing the ability to identify the thought, label it as “unpleasant”, ”pleasant” or “neutral” and move back to focusing on my breath is the basic principal. The key, I was taught, is to think of it as if you’re sitting on the edge of the highway in a comfortable spot, watching the traffic sail by, as opposed to being caught up in the middle of it. These persistent thoughts are the cars on the highway. We want to simply be the observer at the side of the road and not caught up in our thoughts, or the rush hour traffic jam. After several months, it became easier. Some days were easier than others, but I found myself developing the ability to identify situations in my day-to-day life when I was caught up in my head instead of focusing on the conversation happening in the present. I could simply take a breath, label these thoughts and re-engage in the event that was unfolding in the present. I began to notice a difference in the things I was able to remember and felt like I was “reacting” less to stressful situations and stimuli, like my orthopedic manual therapy intermediate exam last April. Now even after a year, I’m not even close to being a meditation “master” or consider myself “enlightened”. I would however say I have noticed a change in my ability to be present, a decrease in “reactivity” on a daily basis and developed much more of an appreciation for time away from technology. I would encourage anyone who has every thought about meditation to give it a try. It’s not a mysterious as you may think and quite easy to implement. The evidence on its effectiveness is growing. According to a systematic review with meta-analysis performed by Hilton et. Al, (2017) there is evidence to suggest that mindfulness and meditation may be helpful in decreasing chronic pain, depression and improvement of overall quality of life. Go on, put your phone down, take a breath, pull off the highway and watch the traffic fly by. Adam Dafoe, PT
The practice of meditation and mindfulness has come to the forefront in the news and social media and has been growing in popularity for the past several years. We can thank some of the new meditation based apps like “Headspace”, “10% Happier” and “Calm” for making this practice easier than ever to access, learn and integrate into our daily lives. With the age of smartphones, social media, endless wifi hotspots and hectic work and household schedules, it has become increasingly more difficult to stop and be present within any given moment, completely free of distraction. How often are you involved in a verbal conversation with a family member, friend or colleague and not scrolling through your smartphone while talking? Or find your mind wandering through the list of hundreds of thoughts or tasks that you could be accomplishing instead of participating in this current conversation? This was a feeling that was becoming all too frequent for me and those that were close to me had started to make me aware of this observation. “I know you’re listening but can tell you’re not totally in the room.” Was one of the ways I felt it was best described to me. I decided to do some research late last December, into mindfulness and meditation. I had heard lots about it and was wondering if it might be helpful with this idea of “presence” or “focus” that seemed to be dwindling within my daily life. I came across an app called Headspace and began the 10 Day trial that they had to offer. I made it my New Year’s Resolution for 2019 to try to meditate for a short period (10-30min) a day, at least 5 days per week. As it turns out sitting and being “quiet” for 10min turned out to be a lot harder then I Imagined, especially for someone that is use to talking with people pretty much all day long.
INSIDE: • Walking Away From Back Pain • Fixing Your Stride • Healthy Recipe
• Exercise Essentials • Complimentary Physiotherapy Screen • Spring Training Focus on Exercise
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