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Just breathe
Take a moment to meditate

01/08/15
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



Just a few moments of meditation can leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to take on the day, experts say. It’s also easy, free, and anyone can do it. 

Don Belanger, a meditation teacher at the Racquet Club of Concord, Granite State Sangha and HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, guides his students in breathing and mindfulness exercises.
His classes range from the secular to the religious, which involve Tibetan Buddhist traditions. But Belanger says you don’t need to join a class to get the full benefits of meditation. 
“It’s easy to start,” Belanger said. “There’s a lot of recorded meditation guides on the Internet that you can download and listen to. There’s also CDs and books for beginners.”
The most basic element of meditation is breathing. Focusing on the air going in and out of your body, Belanger says, can have incredible power to relax and reduce stress. 
“With continuous practice, you will naturally become softer and quieter, not as angry,” he said. “You just respond differently to situations. Instead of reacting immediately with emotion, you learn to take a moment to stop and think.”
Another easy way to meditate is to pause and reflect on what Belanger calls the “benefactors” in your life. Benefactors can be any person, place or moment that makes you smile. Thinking about those things that make you happy can give you a new energy and positive outlook. 
But meditation isn’t always comfortable, he said. Turning inward can sometimes reveal suppressed emotions and bring forth changes that you need to make in your life.
“It helps you unfold yourself and get to know how your own mind works,” Belanger said. “It brings up things that need to be handled — anger, sadness, depression. You lean into those emotions, but you also allow yourself space from them so that you can be kind to your body and your self.”
For some, setting aside 10 to 15 minutes a day is not as simple as it sounds. But it’s still possible to reap the benefits of meditating.
“Try taking two minutes throughout the day to focus on your breath and body,” Belanger said. “You can do it anywhere at any time. Just slow down.”  
 
As seen in the January 8, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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