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BellaOnline's Allergies and Colds Editor

Take a walk

Can you imagine your doctor prescribing meditation, rather than antihistamines, to improve your allergies this spring? It’s an unlikely scenario but meditation may help reduce inflammation which can benefit allergy sufferers. Meditation isn't a replacement for traditional medice but it may be a good complement to your other treatment.

Seven minutes a day of meditation is all it takes to boost your body’s ability to counter inflammation. Meditation takes many forms, all of which are designed to help you achieve a relaxed state of being. The goal of meditation is to slow down your breathing and quiet your mind to counter the effects of stress.

For most people, the easiest meditation technique is a relaxation method called mindfulness meditation. Find a quiet place away from distractions and get into a comfortable position, such as sitting or lying down. Close your eyes and breathe in and out at a natural pace.

Focus on your breathing and quiet your mind. Notice whether your breath is warm or cool, slow or fast. Try to slow your breathing. If the thoughts of the day try to take center stage, acknowledge those thoughts but refocus on your breathing. Mindfulness meditation can be done just about anywhere, including during a break at your desk or in your car while stuck at a traffic light.

It sounds easy but finding a place, free of distractions, may be your biggest obstacle. Let’s say you have kids or dogs that won’t leave you alone, even for the 5-10 minutes. My dogs like to pounce on me for attention when I begin a meditation session. I try to time my meditation for when they are asleep.

But this doesn’t always work. That’s why I have started practicing walking meditation. I can even take my pesky pooches with me. Outdoor meditation benefits me as well as the fur kids.

Here’s the technique I use:

•Find a place away from traffic, if possible.
•If taking pets, make sure the place you select is enclosed and safe.
•Your goal is to focus on the experience of walking.
•Walk at a relaxed pace.
•Pay attention to the sensation in your body as you walk.
•If your mind wanders, keep bringing your thoughts back to what is going on with you.
•Pay attention to the rhythm of your walking (the left-right-left-right motion).
•Consider repeating a mantra if you are getting distracted. A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated over and over, either aloud or in your head. I like repeating “health” on the inhalation and “wellness” on the exhalation.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Sheree Welshimer. All rights reserved.
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