Meditation has been shown to provide a number of health benefits, including reducing stress, improving sleep, and reducing symptoms of both anxiety and depression. There are many different ways to meditate, and it can be done for as little as just a few minutes a day. If you’re new to meditation, you've reached the right place. In this post, we’ll explore the different benefits of meditation and how you might be able to get started. Meditation has become a huge part of my personal self-care, and I'd like to share it with you!
2. What is Meditation?
When it comes to meditation, the simplest definition is that it's the practice of focusing your attention and awareness on the present moment. Meditation isn’t just about relaxation; it involves training your mind to be both present and attentive. It’s about taking the time to stop, observe your thoughts, and become more "mindful."
Meditation usually involves sitting in a quiet place and focusing on the breath, which can lead to a more relaxed and calm state of mind. It can be done in many different ways, such as via guided meditation, structured meditation, and mindfulness meditation. Different forms of meditation can have different benefits, so it’s best to explore different options to find the right one for you!
With regular practice, meditation can help reduce both stress and anxiety, increase your present-moment awareness, improve the quality of your sleep, and promote your overall sense of well-being. I've personally found that practicing meditation not only allowed me to be more present in my daily activities of life, but it has also decreased my stress levels and it contributes to positive days!
3. How to Meditate
Meditation is a journey, where you engage in relaxing both your body and mind. There are many different types of meditation and practices, and it can take some time to find the one that works best for you. Regardless of the type of meditation you practice, the general guidelines are the same:
1. Find a comfortable position – Sitting upright is a great way to maintain good posture, but you can also experiment with lying down or with other positions - whatever is comfortable for you!
2. Close your eyes – Focusing your attention inward will help you avoid distractions.
3. Breathe slowly and deeply – Try to slow down your breathing and focus on each breath.
4. Observe your thoughts – Notice how your thoughts come and go, but practice limiting your reaction to them.
5. Acknowledge any arising emotions – Feelings may arise during your meditation practice, and it’s important to recognize and acknowledge them without judgment.
6. Let go of your thoughts – When you find yourself getting lost in thought, simply return your focus to your breath. Refrain from engaging in any self-judgement!
7. Refocus on your meditation – When the meditation is complete, take a few moments to notice any changes in your body and mind.
Meditation may take time to get used to, but don’t let this discourage you. Practicing regularly will help you gain a better understanding of the process and gain the full benefits.
4. Lifelong benefits of Meditation Practices
Meditating has life-long benefits – both mentally and physically. It has been considered a holistic approach to well-being and healing for centuries. When practiced regularly, the benefits of meditation become more apparent. Here are a few of the long-term benefits of meditating:
1. Stress Relief - When you meditate, your cortisol levels decrease, which results in lower levels of stress and anxiety.
2. Mental Clarity - Meditating helps you become more mindful of your thoughts and feelings, which leads to increased mental clarity and better decision-making.
3. Improved Focus - Regular meditation increases your ability to focus, which can reduce distractions and improve your concentration.
4. Increased Creativity - Meditation can help you access your creative side and come up with creative solutions to difficult problems.
5. Increased Self-Awareness - Meditation allows you to become more aware of yourself, including your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. This improved self-awareness can lead to more meaningful relationships and healthier habits.
By regularly meditating, you can reap the long-term benefits that come with it. So give yourself some time each day to practice meditation and enjoy the life-long benefits it brings.
5. Getting Started with Meditation
When getting started with meditation, it can be helpful to understand what meditation is and what it is not. Meditation, from a modern perspective, is an intentional practice of calming and focusing the mind. It is also a practice of being mindful and in-tune with the present moment, which can allow for liberation from the thoughts and worries that lie within our minds. While meditation does not focus on simply doing away with your thoughts or worries, it does help to reduce or better manage such thoughts.
Now, let’s look at what you need to get started with meditation. All you need is yourself, time, and motivation. Whether it’s 10-minutes or an hour a day, it’s important to set aside time to meditate. Find a space that is peaceful and quiet, and a time that will work best with your schedule. I prefer choosing a meditation on the Podcast app that intrigues me and completing it the first ten minutes of the day! However, there's no one way to meditate and certainly no one resource to use!
It is also important to remember that a successful meditation practice will not happen overnight. As with most things, it takes time and effort to progress and start to reap the benefits. However, keep in mind when starting your meditation practice, that is perfectly normal to find your mind wandering or filled with different thoughts. There will be days where your meditation practice will go smoothly, and there will be days that it’s a bit more of a challenge. But, in either case, do not give up! Make an effort to be consistent and gentle with yourself, and persevere in your meditation practice!
There are many websites that can be helpful for beginning meditators! Here are a few that you may find useful:
1. Headspace (https://www.headspace.com/meditation/meditation-for-beginners): Headspace offers guided meditation sessions for beginners and provides a lot of useful information on how to start meditating.
2. Insight Timer (https://insighttimer.com/meditation-app-for-free): Insight Timer is a popular meditation app that offers a wide range of guided meditations for beginners.
3. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations): The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center provides a range of free guided meditations, including those specifically designed for beginners.
4. Mindful.org (https://www.mindful.org/meditation/meditation-for-beginners/): Mindful.org offers a wealth of information on mindfulness and meditation, including tips for beginners.
5. Zen Habits (https://zenhabits.net/meditation-guide/): Zen Habits is a popular blog that offers a step-by-step guide for beginners to start meditating.
These websites can be a great starting point for anyone looking to begin a meditation practice.