Exercise For Your Brain

Originally posted as “Meditation Tips: Exercise For Your Brain According To Life Coach Rebecca Hass” at CBC News

The best way to deal with stress is to train your mind to appreciate the present, says life coach Rebecca Hass.

She calls mindful meditation a “game changer” when it comes to giving yourself sharper focus, better memory and even control over emotions.

“We really spend our days hardening this one habit which is to not be present and because of that, I think that the simple awareness of the moment, we often just discount,” Hass told Sheryl MacKay, host of CBC Radio’s North by Northwest.

Professional sports teams like the Chicago Cubs and the Seattle Seahawks credit meditation for improved performance on the field, and companies like Google encourage their employees to practice meditation as well, according to Hass.

The growing popularity of yoga, which often involves meditation, has also brought the ancient practice to the forefront in recent decades.

Hass offers these three tips for those who want to try exercising their brains at home.

1. Use your breath

Anyone can meditate, says Hass — all you have to do is focus on your breath.

“The technique is you sit, you notice how your breath feels and every time your mind wanders away, you just call it back and say ‘come back notice that I’m breathing’.”

Think of meditation as exercise for the brain, said Hass.

“You’re training the brain to come back to the present moment. And to do that, all you have to do is feel the breath. It’s simple awareness.”

2. Start with guided meditation

People who are just starting meditation sometimes fall asleep because their minds are used to either being busy, or being asleep. If you encounter this problem, try guided meditation instead, said Hass.

Guided meditation can come in the form of podcasts or even classes where a instructor can help keep people on track.

meditation-yoga
Some people find it helpful to meditate with others in a class setting. (Getty Images/Hero Images)

“Every meditation has an object,” said Hass.

“Guided meditation is often giving you something to visualize.”

3. Practice, practice, practice

There’s no right and wrong when it comes to meditation. Setting time aside to meditate regularly is already a step in the right direction, said Hass.

“You can’t do it wrong. There’s no perfect. You’re meeting yourself. Be kind to yourself. This is actually a practice of being with yourself,” she said.

“The whole point is just to sit.”