Pandemic! Riots! Stress!
These days are quite peculiar, aren’t they? Everything seems to be going wrong out there. But despite all these changes in the world, our basic duties remain the same. And performing our daily routine with the impending threat of the unknown possibly lurking around the corner, it can be difficult to remain at peace.
I’m far from enlightened, but, personally, I had to take a step back and revisit some literature that promotes and teaches mindfulness. To be in the here and now requires effort and practice. But the rewards are worth it.
One of those practices is meditation. It’s free. It’s easy to do. But it’s hard to get started.
But why should you meditate? What makes is so important for your mental health?
Let’s forget about today’s news for a moment and simply talk about the benefits of meditation. Results vary but the more time you spend meditating the more likely you are to experience its benefits quicker. But it’s a process and it can take time.
In other words — it’s a skill.
Meditation can help you:
- Lower stress
- Increase happiness
- Improve concentration
- Reduce anger and anxiety
- Regulate blood pressure
- Promote better sleep
As you can see — the benefits are both physical and mental.
How to Meditate
Now, let’s get to it, but first things first:
There are many different types of meditation, some are more complex than others, but today we’re only talking about meditation for beginners. The basics.
Your point of focus will be your breath.
Step 1: Find a comfortable sitting place.
Location doesn’t really matter. You can meditate in a chair, couch, bench, etc. As long as it’s safe (don’t try this while driving!).
You can sit cross-legged on a cushion or sit upright on your couch. As long as it’s not too comfortable that you fall asleep.
Just try to stay upright.
I have back pain, so sitting cross-legged is not an option. I must lean back on a chair with a pillow tucked behind my lower back — and that works for me.
Step 2: Determine the duration of your session.
This is entirely up to you.
Some start with 1-minute meditation sessions, some go straight to 10+ minute sessions.
For beginners with a highly-developed monkey mind like myself, I’d recommend 5 minutes minimum per session.
Step 3: Follow your breath
You set up your timer. You found a comfortable place. Now close your eyes and breathe gently. Let your attention follow the breath.
When it wanders off, bring it back to your breath. This will happen so don’t berate yourself for getting distracted. That’s why you’re here!
Feel it go into your lungs, and out your nose. Again and again.
And that’s it! Wait for the timer to go off and come back for more the next day, or later in the day if you wish.
Keeping your attention on your breath is a skill. You’ll get better at it the more you practice. When you bring this quality of attention to a different task, like work, it can become a meditative practice of its own — where time feels like it’s standing still.
But what if that was too difficult?
That’s okay. That’s also common. One thing I’d recommend is to try:
With the advent of meditation apps and podcasts, you can find a huge list of useful applications and resources that can help you with this. Thankfully!
In case you’re wondering, guided meditation is simply an audio track of somebody leading your attention for you.
You have to find the right one for you, but one teacher I would recommend is Tara Brach. You can find her guided meditations on YouTube for FREE! They’re fantastic.
Click here for a 14-minute guided meditation by Tara Brach.
You can also try Headspace, a guided meditation app that currently has close to 700 thousand 5-star ratings in the app store.
The benefits of meditation are something you can bring with you to the rest of your day. It promotes a happier mind and helps keep anxiety and stress at bay. Try it. You won’t regret it.