What do you know about meditation? For some, it may sound intimidating, boring, or unrewarding. The truth of the matter is, meditation has been proven to be extremely beneficial to human health. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, can improve your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. So, what is meditation exactly and how do you start?
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice of being mindful. The goal of meditation is to pay attention to what is happening in the present moment. This is commonly done by placing your attention on the inhale and exhale of your breath while you sit comfortably in an upright position. This may seem simple, but ultimately, it takes practice and patience to quiet your thoughts with purpose. Our minds can be easily distracted, but with continuous effort, meditation will help you let go of your rapid thoughts and teach you enhanced self-awareness.
You should practice meditation if you want to:
- connect better with yourself and those around you.
- lower your levels of stress, anxiety, or depression.
- understand and decrease your physical pain.
- improve your focus and brain functionality.
- enhance the quality of your sleep.
- practice patience and compassion for yourself and/or others.
How to Start Meditating
- Take a Seat
Sit somewhere quiet and comfortable in an upright position. Remember- you can meditate anywhere! Whether it be outside in the grass, on the floor in your closet, or sitting on the couch- it all works. Ideally, you want this place to have peaceful and relaxing vibes.
- Set a Time
If you are just beginning, start off small. Set your timer between 3-5 minutes for your first time. From there, you can add a minute or two each day you practice. Pro tip- set your timer ringtone as something subtle and relaxing or use a mindfulness app such as “Headspace” or “Insight Timer”.
- Draw Your Attention to Your Breath
This can be done in a variety of different ways, so practice this in the way that works best for you. You can place one hand on your belly and one on your heart to give you a physical reminder to pay attention to your breath. You can also try repeating a mantra in your head with each breath such as, “inhale/exhale”. Another great technique to try is counting each breath.
- Notice When Your Mind Wanders
Inevitably, your attention will shift and outside thoughts will enter your mind. Do not panic when this happens! Simply observe whatever thought has wandered in and place your awareness back on your breath.
- Be Kind to Yourself
Meditation can be as easy or as hard as you make it. Remember that it takes time to learn anything new. With meditation, you are literally learning how to rewire your brain. This will not happen overnight, but with diligence, you will change for the better.
The most important thing to remember is that patience and consistency are key. Meditation can be challenging, but it is something that everyone can do. Give meditation a try, so you can begin to relish the foreseeable benefits!
-Danielle Lasky, CPT | CYT Zero Doubt Club