Meditation for Women

Women and the Health Benefits of Meditation

Why Women Should Meditate

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years throughout the world by many cultures.  Meditation has become more mainstream because of the overwhelming research supporting the benefits of regular meditative practice.  And I think the reason why more and more people are coming to meditation is fairly universal in the beginning.

We live in a stressed-out world and people need a way to quiet their mind and reduce their mental exhaustion and meditation is an effective way to do that – while promoting overall health, especially for women in any stage of her life.

When it comes to health, meditation has many benefits such as reducing stress, calming the nervous system and enhancing self-awareness.  But when it comes to women meditation offers a wide range of benefits specific to women’s health needs

Meditation Benefits for Women

Improved pain control which can be beneficial when it comes to uterine pain associated with monthly cycles, painful menstrual cramps, fibroids and endometriosis which a significant number of women suffer from. Meditation essentially retrains and changes the brain to deal with pain differently while inducing the body’s natural version of opioids, releasing endorphins into the body, reducing pain and increasing pleasure – which results in feelings of well-being.

Improved mood regulation which can help combat symptoms of depression which is more common in women as we undergo hormonal changes during pregnancy and postpartum, and during perimenopause and menopause. When we meditate, serotonin and dopamine levels increase in the brain.  Serotonin is a powerful mood regulator and dopamine helps us feel happiness and pleasure and is deeply linked to our emotional responses.

Improved sleep, which is beneficial to every woman, particularly those who are pregnant or going through menopause and are experiencing insomnia. Meditation actually increases melatonin concentration.  Melatonin is the hormone released from the pineal gland and is associated with our sleep-wake cycles and helps to improve our quality of sleep.

Improved hormonal balance which is highly important as women enter into the early stages of perimenopause during our 40’s and begin to experience significant hormonal changes as estrogen production is reduced causing symptoms such as irritability, hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, foggy memory, insomnia and depression as we shift towards menopause in our 50’s.

Stress and sustained levels of stress hormones like cortisol take a toll on our body breaking its down on many levels.  Stress slows downs our capacity to heal and steals essential biochemicals needed to make other vital hormones.  When our adrenals glands, which release stress hormone, become fatigued along with the rest of the body, it can become a factor in three conditions that largely affect women such as fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Meditation lowers stress hormones and reduces inflammation in the body.  When we cease to live in a fight or flight or survival mode, and instead operate from a safe and relaxed response, it changes and supports our nervous system in a positive way that helps maintain internal balance which positively impacts our hormones over the course of our life cycles.

Different Kinds of Meditation

There are lots of different kinds of meditation to practice.  The most popular ways to meditate include:

Breath-focused Meditation – a mindful meditation that focuses attention on the natural rhythm of the flow of inhales and exhales while breathing.

Guided Meditation – a meditation guided by instruction, often focusing on a specific object or visualization.

Movement Meditation – a practice that uses slowed, physical movement such as walking, yoga, tai chi or qigong to focus and center the mind.

Mindfulness Meditation – focuses on being aware and sensing feelings in the present moment without judgement.

Mantra Meditation – uses a mantra (a word or phrase) that is repeated during practice and used as an anchor or focal point for attention.

Regardless of meditation, all practices have an anchor, a word, action, image or object to place your attention on whenever your mind begins to wander.  And your mind will wander, but with an anchor, it is easier to return your attention back to whatever it is you are focusing on.  If you are just starting meditation, I recommend beginning with a breath or a guided meditation.

How to Start?

  1. Create a Sacred Space

Create a quiet space for yourself that is free from distractions.  For me, meditation is not only a holistic practice for my health, but a deeply spiritual one of connection with myself.  If you feel the same way or are looking to create ritual and meaning into your spiritual life, you may want to de-clutter, decorate or create an altar of special spot to meditate.  Consider using candles, plants, art or whatever calls to you to make the place sacred.

  1. Get Comfortable

You might want to consider investing in a meditation or zafu cushion for comfort.  There are lots of styles to choose from, but the most important things is to be comfortable so you do not become distracted while you meditate.  If you do not want to spend the money on a meditation cushion, a pillow or a rolled blanket will also work.

Also choose a position that works for your body.  Contrary to traditional beliefs, meditation can be done in several positions.  You can stand, be seated in a chair, sit on the floor in a modified cross-legged lotus pose, kneel in hero’s pose or lie on the floor.  If being still doesn’t work, then try walking!

  1. Pick Your Anchor

Before you begin, you need to choose your anchor.  I suggest just starting with your breath or as mentioned a guided meditation.  Or you can try a mantra meditation.  If this appeals to you, pick a word or affirmation that resonates with you, a phrase that has meaning, or a mantra that echoes in your heart.  For some ideas, check out 10 Mantras for Empowered Women.

  1. Be Open & Mindful

Contrary to appearances, meditation is not easy.  The mind wanders frequently, and it can take time to learn and retrain your brain to be quiet and present.  When you begin to meditate, let go of expectations and judgement. When you become distracted while meditating, don’t get discouraged – just re-focus your attention back to your anchor.  Getting distracted is part of meditation.

Like all things, meditation takes practice and becomes easier over time.  Like yoga, sometimes you need the opportunity to try different kinds of practices until you discover the right one for you.  And sometimes it’s helpful to have additional instruction and guidance from an experienced teacher.  If you are interested in learning more about meditation or in private instruction, check out private instruction here.

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Joanne Smith (a.k.a. Joanne Freeborn) is a Transformational Wellness Leader who supports women realign their mental, physical and spiritual lives.  She educates and coaches using immersive self-healing techniques that align and transform health and wellness, while paving the path to a deeper connection with Self.

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