Meditation is really becoming far more mainstream and the practice may seem more accessible as high profile businessmen, politicians, medical practitioners, highly successful public figures and athletes discuss in the media their daily practice of meditation…….. and why wouldn’t they be including meditation in their daily routines??? Studies showing the benefits of meditation just keep on mounting up and are hard to ignore. The support of meditation from the scientific world that shows that meditation practice can lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, literally rewire key parts of your brain associated with stress and well-being is making more and more people interested in making meditation part of their daily life.
If you’re one of those people who “just can’t meditate,” you may want to give it another go. A video from ASAP Science, a YouTube channel lists some pretty solid benefits of the practice.
“During meditation, brain scans see increased activity in regions directly correlated with decreased anxiety and depression, along with increased pain tolerance,” the clip explains. “The Default Mode Network, in particular, is activated when one’s mind is at rest and not focusing on the outside world, and has been found to improve memory, self-awareness and goal-setting.”
Those who practice meditation also have higher levels of alpha waves, “which have been shown to reduce feelings of negative mood, tension, sadness and anger,” according to the video.
In fact, a 2011 brain imaging study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that even very brief instruction in mindfulness meditation (four x 20-minute sessions) was effective in relieving pain by reducing the brain’s emotional response to painful stimuli
Another benefit? Meditation can also improve sleep. At the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, researchers, citing their work, argued that meditation can help with insomnia. “Results of the study show that teaching deep relaxation techniques during the daytime can help improve sleep at night,” said Ramadevi Gourineni, M.D., director of the insomnia program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Our own Osteopath Dr Nick Ritter practices daily meditation and is seeing the benefits in patients who have incorporated it into their daily lives
“Something that I have been really into for a while is meditation, as a self practice. Since being over here in Australia, I’ve started to incorporate meditation into my patients management plans as stress and anxiety comes up a lot as a significant factor during initial case history. I’ve noticed that a few patients with chronic disorders, especially chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are gaining a lot of benefit from including daily meditation. As there is a significant somato-emotional component with these particular disorders, I’m finding that their practice of mindfulness along with the breathing focus is helping to reduce their pain perception and also lifting their overall mood when they come in for treatment. A few patients have mentioned that through meditation, they now have s sense of hope with managing with their particular disorder.”
How to get some meditation into your busy daily life?!
Setting aside a specific time everyday, taking a class or joining a course…. Or if you haven’t done meditation before and none of that appeals maybe you can catch some meditation during a flight or commute on a busy day by adding an app to your phone– check some of these apps out!
Dr Giulian Di Venuto – Osteopath
My number one tip is to maintain your body through exercise, stretches and an osteopathic tune-up or maintenance treatment.
Changes in posture are of concern to Osteopaths because postural deviation can produce excessive stress on the musculoskeletal system.
I often describe optimal posture as the position, arrangement or alignment of the skeleton that requires the least amount of muscular energy to hold it upright and to account for the constant downward pull of gravity.
Deviations of the skeleton, of only millimeters, changes all the angles. It’s like the leaning tower of Pisa…everyone knows as soon a they see it that it does not look right and that at any moment gravity will win!
I have always said, Osteopathy is like Engineering for the human body. We assess the body like an engineer would address a damaged building and figure out why the injured area is failing and causing pain. We address the foundations and fix the cracks. This is often why we will recommend that people get regular maintenance care and treatment and advice specific to them, their body and their lifestyle.
Dr Ashleigh Maggary – Osteopath
My number 1 posture tip is the – Rolled towel thoracic spine stretch
This stretch is great for correcting forward head carriage and rounded shoulder posture, and encourages relaxation after slumping at the computer desk for prolonged periods of time.
Roll up a medium sized towel, and lie over the towel as it’s placed from the base of your neck to the mid back. Keep a flat pillow under your head (to avoid over extending your neck) and your knees bent (if necessary, to avoid low back strain). This stretch encourages stretch to the muscles which shorten during prolonged desk posture (pectoral and anterior neck muscles) and provides slack to those normally strained (trapezius and rhomboid muscles).
Spend 15 minutes in this position, focusing on deep breathing and allowing the body to relax into position. To increase stretch lie with arms outstretched. You should notice the stretch will ease and become more comfortable. Discontinue if any pain occurs.
Dr Grant Sinclair – Osteopath
I see tight or stiff upper back and neck and shoulder area as a large contributor to poor posture.
I find this stretch to be my ‘go to’ stretch for anyone with upper back or tightness across the neck or shoulders.
Most people can do it at the desk driving car (at stop lights of course) or in between activities.
The Eagle Arms stretch
How to do it
1) Cross your left elbow under your right and twist your forearms so your palms come together in the centre of your body
2) Bring your forearms away from your face
3) Try to lift your elbow to your shoulder height
4) Hold for 30-60 seconds right and left
Dr Hilton Blauensteiner – Osteopath
A lot of people because of sedentary work posture can experience lower back pain.
Here is an exercise to decompress lower back that I use myself, it’s great for easing the muscle tension caused by sedentary work and can be done easily in bed at night before going to sleep.
Instructions: Lie comfortably on back with legs straight and try to stretch by pointing one leg away from the head (towards the foot). Start by doing the stretch lightly a few times alternating between left and right legs. Next try holding the stretch quite firmly for a few seconds. [A variation to this position is to have the hips and knees bent with the feet flat on the bed/floor and then pushing the pelvis towards the foot on the same side.] If done correctly, this will have the effect of stretching the region right at the base of the lumbar spine, which is where the stretch should be felt. It is also where most low back pain originates. Compare left and right sides and try to stretch until both sides feel like they can stretch the same amount. As with all stretches, starting slowly and gently is a good idea to minimise causing further strain or aggravation.
Dr Jed Pullen – Osteopath
My postural tip:
The mouse often causes many problems affecting your wrist to your neck. Make sure your mouse is as close to the front of the desk, sitting directly next to your keyboard, with your shoulder relaxed and elbow by your side. This minimises stresses place on muscles and joints of the arm, shoulder and neck. The mouse often starts to move forward over the day, along with your posture, so take note to readadjust every half an hour.
Dr Bridget Vinning – Osteopath
I have listed a few different stretches/exercises because I find them really beneficial and addressing the posture problems I see most commonly.
- Foam roller chest stretch. Lying with a foam roller or rolled up towel vertically down the spine, place arms out by side on the ground. You should feel a stretch in the front of your chest, your pectoral (chest) muscles. Hold this position for 3-5 mins daily.
- Cat/camel stretch. On all 4’s with hands underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips, arch your back into the air, tucking your chin and tail bone under. Then lower your back towards the ground, looking up towards the wall in-front of you and with your bottom in the air. Hold each position for 3-5 seconds, repeat 10 times each day.
- Chin tucks/ posterior cervical muscle stretch. This can be done, lying down, sitting or standing. Nod your head forward whilst tucking your chin in towards the back of your neck. You should feel a stretch at the base of your skull and down the back of your neck. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times during the day.
Dr Vincent Cahill – Osteopath
There is two hints or things I get people to focus on
1. Shoulders don’t look good as earrings. I think when people are stressed or anxious or even really absorbed in things they tend to walk around or sit with elevated shoulders loading the traps and neck.
2. Concentrate on lifting your sternum at the computer. By lifting your sternum your shoulders will drop and your head will come back form the screen as well.
Dr Kellie Rawlings – Osteopath
My tips are regular exercise, stretching and tune-ups and being aware of the little things that can make a really big difference such as
– limiting screen time (phones/ipads etc) especially on weekends.
– being aware of your posture when lifting and bending and doing everyday tasks like lifting kids, groceries washing etc
– good footwear if you intend to be standing or walking for a while – high heels can look great but they are a nightmare for your posture.
– Don’t think it won’t catch up with you and you can get away with no exercise or wearing high heels every day, bending and lifting badly or simply not looking after yourself…… you will definitely pay the price!!
Dr Kieran Schulz – Osteopath
Would have something very inspired to say if he was not doing his posture the world of good by taking a well eared holiday, resting and relaxing……. Which we all should do more often!