With our lives becoming more digital, more compact and busier than ever, it’s no wonder that meditation is gaining popularity in media, personal wellness and even corporate culture. With the increasing demands of our professional lives and information overload from social media and television, it’s totally understandable why anyone in their right mind would be seeking out meditation for their own, personalized getaway.
Meditation is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as :
1: to engage in contemplation or reflection
2: to engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness
3: to focus one’s thoughts on : reflect on or ponder over
4: to plan or project in the mind
Wait a minute…. “to plan or project in the mind”? For the sake of our cause, the meditation that we are referring to is the one defined on #2. So, how exactly do you meditate? Is there a “right” way? What should I feel and what can I hope to gain? Does it help my health? In this article, we’ll dive in with the benefits of meditation and how to get the most of it.
Meditation is a practice that is over 2500 years old with origins from the Eastern World ranging back to Tibetan Monks, masters of martial arts, religious leaders, philosophers and more. It’s practiced by people of all ages, backgrounds, professions, gender and life stages. Some of the most successful business moguls and brilliant leaders of our time start their day off with meditation to get grounded and find their center.
In such practices as Reiki, Crystal Healing and Sound Healing and Yoga Therapy; meditation is the core function, as is with other forms of wellness practices, for setting the intention on how the healing energy will be utilized..
How do I Meditate?
First and foremost, you should take note that there is no “right” way. The purpose of meditation is to reach a more centered space of clarity with all things and a heightened and expanded sense of awareness in your being. Becoming relaxed or tapping into the stillness is a state reached in the act of meditating. The point of meditating is to relax your mind, so stressing about what you should be doing or feeling, or being hard on yourself that you have not reached “Zen” are the counter blocks to meditations. The point of meditation is to simply be. It is learning to let go of the idea that you have to do anything, and that allows the mind to relax. The biggest struggle with many who are just starting out is that they feel like they have to do something; stop their thoughts, feel a specific way, breath a specific way, sit a specific way, and so on. As you dive into the world of Meditation to a greater capacity there is a vast exploration of several techniques that can bring about a wide range of experiences, but for starting out, it is simply about being and letting go, and learning to be okay with whatever experience you are having with it while it becomes a more disciplined practice in your life. We utilize the awareness of the breath as a focal point because it can help center someone if they become scattered with their thoughts, so it is definitely an essential tool but not at all something rigid that has a “right way” or a “wrong way”. We’ve listed some techniques that serve as a starting point but we encourage each individual follow their own personal inner guidance to relaxation.
- Find a place that feels comfortable. Whether that be in your home, your office/school, or within a group meditation session, find a spot that speaks comfort to you. Choosing a place in nature, such as the beach or a spot where you can observe the sunset can be an added way to begin relaxing the mind.
- Sit comfortably. Sit tall freely or against support, or lay down to stretch out the back and fully open the chest; whichever feels more comfortable to you. Close your eyes if you find yourself distracted by the visual stimuli.
- Just breathe. Take a deep breath in, hold and release. Notice how the breath affects the body. Start by focusing on your breath with a mantra like “ Breath in, Breath out”. If you lose your place and mind begins to wonder, just gently guide yourself back to focus on taking a deep breath in, then out. Focusing on the breathing, and doing different types of breath work is simply a technique one can use in the process meditation but it isn’t the purpose of it, so don’t over think it.
Benefits of Meditation
There are many benefits of meditation, both long term and short term, psychological, physical, emotional and mental. The effects of meditation in calming the mind and reducing stress and anxiety, which can be achieved on the first session with no experience necessary, in as little as 5 minutes. As you do it consistently with increased duration and deeper relaxation, the benefits of well being, reduced anxiety, inner calm and greater spiritual connectivity also increase.
Long term use of meditation as a chosen relaxation method can physically benefit the body by lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety, boosting the immune system, better hearing, better vision and overall improved health. Mental benefits include clearer thinking, increased creativity and decision making capacity, accelerated learning and improved memory. Emotional benefits included reduced negative thoughts, less tendency for addictions, improved self coping skills, inner calm and less loneliness and greater spiritual awareness.
Your Meditation Rx
Incorporating a meditation ritual to your daily life is beneficial in so many ways. 20 minutes, 3 times a day is an ideal way to reap all of the benefits of meditation, however even one 5 minute session a day still provides benefits. Start with one session in the morning for 5 minutes. If this is your first time, even 5 minutes can feel like an eternity, so be kind to yourself and build up slowly to 20 minutes, even an hour, but at the pace that your mind readily accepts it. Try doing this every morning for a few weeks. Then try adding a closing session at the end of the day, after the kids are asleep and the emails have stopped. Starting and ending the day on a calm, meaningful note can be the difference between rushing through life or noticing each day with appreciation and the distinct feeling that all is well. When you get comfortable with two sessions, try adding third 5 minute session sometime in the middle of the day.
Meditation is a method of self mastery that is valuable for our well being. It can be done just about anywhere and anytime. No experience or special skills are needed, just the desire to meditate is all it takes. Finding time in your day to incorporate meditation as a part of your wellness plan is an act of self love and a declaration of emotional mastery. With so many resources available, meditation will continue to thrive in our ever expanding world. Why not try it yourself all you need is comfortable clothing and you’re ready to start your path to inner peace.
Worry less, meditate more.