If you have never meditated, or have never meditated properly, don’t get caught up in the idea of being overcome by thoughts. That’s actually the opposite of what happens in mediation — the point is to not think. Mediation is one of the most powerful habits a person can commit to, and it can take just a few minutes each day.
Research has shown that meditation aids a variety of health problems — from depression, to asthma, to cancer. Here are three reasons to start meditating and some tips for getting through your first few sessions.
1. It reduces stress
Stress triggers adrenaline that’s useless to a modern life. Our ancestors may have put the fight-or-flight response to good use, but today, it puts us at an increased risk for anxiety, depression, heart attacks, and other serious health problems. Meditation cultivates inner peace the same way cleaning your room cultivates tranquility. Sure, you can live in a dirty, untidy room, but do you really want to?
2. It inspires
Meditation filters out the white noise and tunes us into our subconscious mind. With practice, meditators strengthen a connection to the subconscious, which leads to more “aha!” moments throughout the day.
3. It builds self-awareness
Most of us go through our day in a perpetual rush. As adults, we don’t take notice of the little things, like the warmth of the socks on our feet, or how good it feels to take them off at the end of a long day. We don’t appreciate the technological miracle that is our smartphone, or our GPS, or our computer. Meditation forces us to take note of reality, and with time, that transfers to every day life.
Types of Meditation
There are many ways to approach meditation, so experiment until you find one that you feel most comfortable with. Here are a few of the most common:
- Zen/Mindfulness Meditation. With this type of meditation, practitioners focus on being mindful and present, and broadening awareness. Mostly, that means taking note of thoughts and emotions, and letting them pass without judgement
- Guided meditation. Often performed with the help of a teacher or a taped recording, guided meditation involves visualizing places and scenes you find relaxing.
- Mantra meditation. Like zen meditation, but practitioners silently repeat a calming word or phrase to ward off distraction.
- Yoga. Often referred to as “moving meditation,” yoga is accompanied by breathing exercises that help to focus on concentration, awareness and relaxation.
1. Find a quiet space
Many people meditate in the early morning, when the sounds of traffic and housemates is at a low. It doesn’t matter where you meditate, as long as you can sit comfortably, cross-legged on a pillow or upright in a comfortable chair.
2. Let thoughts come and go on their own
If you have never meditated, or have never meditated properly, don’t get caught up in the idea of being overcome by thoughts. That’s actually the opposite of what happens in mediation — the point is to not think. It takes some practice, but try taking note of every thought that enters your mind, and letting go without judgement.
If it helps, close your eyes, and focus on counting your breath. Feel the weight of your bottom on your pillow or cushion, and the pulse of your heartbeat.
3. Don’t get frustrated (but realize that it’s OK if you do).
Remember, meditation is all about self-love and acceptance. If you find yourself bored or filled with negativity, picture those thoughts floating away like a rain cloud.
4. Do only what you can manage
Healthy habits are more likely to form if you ease into them. Start your meditation practice with just 10 minutes a day and work your way up from there. Seasoned meditators can hit the cushion for hours a day, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Do what feels right, and what you have the time for. Start with five to 10 minutes once a day for swven days straight. Add one minute each week and try to work your way up to 15-30 minutes.