Meditation has been shown to have a great many health benefits. It is a practice many shy away from, though, simply because they find the idea of clearing the mind and being still for any period of time to be very daunting. However, meditation doesn’t have to be intimidating if you know how to start.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is a great way to relax the mind and body. It allows you to destress, which can improve the immune system, help lower blood pressure, and just put you in a better mood. Meditation helps with anxiety, too and can improve cognitive function.
Tips for Beginners
Clear the mind: We always hear about ‘clearing the mind’ to meditate, and for many people, this seems very difficult. It’s important to realize you don’t necessarily have to worry about getting rid of every thought when you meditate. Thoughts will come and go; this is normal. What ‘clearing the mind’ really means is not dwelling on those thoughts. Let them come, and then let them go. Realize this is all a part of meditation; you will have thoughts, you just don’t want to linger on them. That’s what ‘clearing the mind’ is all about.
Relax the body: You can relax your body by starting at the top and working your way down. Begin by thinking of relaxing the muscles of your forehead, your cheeks, your neck…and work your way down. By the time you get to your toes, your body will be more than relaxed.
Breathe: Breathing is key to meditation. Some people like to repeat a mantra, like ‘Ohm’ but if you prefer, you can just concentrate on your breathing. Try taking the same length breath in as you do out. Breathe in for four counts and then out for four counts. Focusing on your breath will keep you present, too, and those thoughts won’t cloud your mind.
Get comfortable: Make sure you are in a position of comfort to begin meditation. Sit on the floor or on a pillow. You can even meditate sitting in a comfortable chair, with your back against the chair back, sitting tall. Some people even like to sit up against a wall to keep their backs straight. This will help with your breath. Sit in a cross-legged position and rest your hands on your knees, or in your lap.
Find peace: Some people like to listen to peaceful music, while others prefer the sounds of nature. Find a relaxing soundtrack and play it as you meditate. Make sure the volume is low enough that the music stays in the background. Additionally, as you meditate, you may want to focus on a peaceful image; perhaps somewhere you love to go to relax (an island paradise, a calm wooded area).
Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to meditation. The more you meditate, the easier it will become. Start with a few minutes at a time (research shows that just three minutes of meditation can make a big difference in our stress levels) and then add more as it becomes second nature to you.