What is meditation?
Meditation is a simple yet very efficient practice that is available to everyone. In fact, it is believed that between 200 and 500 million people meditate.
Through mindfulness meditation, we learn to remain anchored in the present moment and observe our mind as it tries to wander to other tasks. Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts but about observing them and training awareness.
Whether you want to be more focused, reduce stress or develop better relationships with the people around you, meditation can help you. In fact, meditation has a great impact on your personal development and can help you get a whole new perspective on your life. Studies show that 76.2% of people meditate to improve their general wellness.
Here are some of the countless benefits of meditation:
- Improves focus: meditation helps you focus on the present moment, but it can also teach you how to concentrate on other areas in your life. When we meditate, we actually teach our brains how to cultivate awareness and attention.
- Reduces stress and anxiety: meditation can help you manage stress and anxiety, improving your mental health and your emotional well-being. Furthermore, a study reviewed in 2018 shows that meditation can lead to a 73% reduction in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Helps you relax: relaxation is probably the most popular benefit of meditation. However, meditation gives us a deeper form of relaxation than other activities, as it clears our minds and offers us a fresh perspective upon the things that trouble us.
- Strengthens the immune system: It has been proven that meditation also positively impacts our physical health. In fact, a study at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has shown that mediators produced more antibodies to an influenza vaccine compared to nonmeditators.
Keep in mind that the benefits of meditation usually occur after regular practice. It is important to set a routine and stick to it, even if you only meditate for a few minutes a day.
How to Meditate
Meditation might not seem easy in the beginning. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Start small, and you will get better at it with a little practice. Find a spot where no one will disturb you and give it a try.
Begin your practice by following the next steps:
1. Take a seat
Find a comfortable position and close your eyes. You can sit anywhere: on a yoga mat, on the ground, on a chair, or a cushion. You can take the crossed-legged position, or you can find a more comfortable posture. However, it is important to keep your back straight.
2. Set a time limit
If you’re a beginner, start by meditating 5 or 10 minutes a day. You can later increase the time to 20 minutes or more. Set the alarm so that you’ll be alerted once the time is up.
3. Notice your body
How do you feel? Take a minute or two to become aware of your body—notice which body parts feel comfortable and if any parts feel tense.
4. Focus on your breath
The most popular meditation technique involves focusing on your breath. It’s a great way to start for beginners, as it helps you avoid distracting thoughts. Breathe through your nose and don’t try to change your breath’s rhythm.
5. Notice when your mind tries to wander
Your mind will inevitably try to wander to other thoughts. Don’t worry, it is normal. When this happens, just try to observe your mind from a neutral perspective and return your attention to your breath.
6. End with gratefulness
Once the meditation is over, observe how your body feels and relax. Notice your thoughts and take a moment of gratefulness before going back to your daily tasks. End your meditation with a smile.
The tips below are meant to enhance the meditation experience. You don’t have to try them all at once or to include them all in your daily practice. Meditation should not be a complicated process. Remember that you are doing this for your well-being, so only apply the techniques that work best for you.
- Start your morning with meditation: Add meditation to your morning routine and set the tone for a wonderful day. First of all, it’s easier to avoid postponing it if you are committed to doing it first thing in the morning. Secondly, it boosts your overall mood and helps you start the day with a clear mind and a positive attitude.
- Try guided meditation: It is helpful, especially for beginners, to follow guided meditations. These are usually held by experienced instructors. You can either join a meditation group or use online resources. There are several mobile apps that offer guided meditations. My personal favorites are Amen, Abide, and Calm.
- Ask your friends to join you: It is much easier to commit yourself to a new habit if you’re doing it with friends. You don’t even have to be in the same place as them. Just make a commitment with your friends to practice meditation daily and check in with them at the end of the day to see how it went.
- Don’t worry about doing it wrong: It often happens that we lose focus during meditation because we are too worried that we are doing it wrong. Relax and enjoy the process, as there is no perfect way to meditate.
Let’s Do This!
Meditation is one of the most important habits I’ve formed in the past few years. Embrace this habit in order to become more focused, to calm your thoughts, and to better understand the way in which your mind works.
Even if you do it only for a few minutes a day, it is important to do it on a regular basis. Consistency is more important than duration.
Start today and share your journey with us in the comments below!