Meditation is a simple practice that gives us insight into how our minds work and allows us to relax. It is a practice you can do anywhere for any length of time to reap it’s many rewards. Even just a few minutes a day can make a huge difference in your life.
No one knows for sure when this practice began, but historians mostly agree that the practice of meditation goes back at least 5,000 years. It evolved into the meditation we know today through the teachings of the Buddha. While the practice of meditation thrived in Asia for all that time, it didn’t grow in popularity in the Western world until the 1960’s-1970’s. Today, with all of the stresses of modern life, meditation has never proved more invaluable.
The benefits of meditation have been researched in numerous scientific studies. Scientists have found that meditation, if practiced regularly, can
- Reduce age related brain atrophy
- Improve memory and concentration
- Reduce anxiety and ease depression
- Boost the immune system and
- Boost overall creativity and happiness
How to Meditate
While there are as many ways to meditate as there are practitioners of meditation, here is a very simple guide on how to meditate for beginners.
- Sit or lie comfortably
- Close your eyes or focus on a single point
- Breathe naturally
- Focus on your breathing and how your body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
- Any time your mind wanders don’t worry, just bring your focus back to your breathing
Focusing on your breathing is a great way to pull yourself into the present moment. Once you have practiced this for a week or so, you can start to spend time with the thoughts or feelings that arise while you’re immersed in the present moment.
We want to learn about ourselves and how our minds work. Bringing our concentration and focus entirely to the present moment, allows you to step back and notice what your mind does. By watching your mind wander, get excited or frustrated, or avoid tough feelings, you can learn a lot about yourself.
Five Tips For Better Meditation:
- Commitment– Meditation isn’t something you can test out for a couple of days. If you want to give meditation a try, you’re going to need to lock in for at least a month of daily meditation. It’s easy to push meditation off until “later.” Actually taking the time to practice meditation each day is half the battle. If you struggle to make time for meditation, there are a lot of ways to work around that. Try making it a part of your morning routine, set a reminder on your phone or write a note and put it somewhere you’ll see. This will help you bring meditation into your routine and start your day on the right foot.
- Restless mind– If your mind keeps wandering while you’re trying to focus on the present, try counting your breaths. Count one when you inhale and two when you exhale. When you get to ten, or when you notice that your mind has wandered, start back at one.
- Don’t worry about the how – Over focusing or trying to control your thoughts actually ends up tightening your mind and having the opposite effect of meditation. Just relax in a place you feel comfortable and follow the steps above.
- Love yourself – When you’re meditating try to bring a loving attitude to everything you experience. Having trouble concentrating today? That’s perfectly okay, we all have those days. Are feelings coming to the surface that you’re not sure about? Stick with them for a little bit and see what’s happening there. As you see these feelings and watch how your mind works, get to know yourself as you would a friend. Don’t let your inner critic hijack your meditation time.
- Guided meditation – Some people find these great tools to help them with their meditation practice. Guided meditation is when you have someone talking you through your meditation for a specific purpose, such as self-discovery or relaxation.
If you’re like me, sitting still for five minutes is a challenge and focusing in on meditation for that long seems impossible. However, if you start small, say two minutes a day, you can work yourself up to a place where you’re comfortable and start reaping the deep emotional, spiritual and physical benefits of meditation.