More people are seeking the benefits of meditation than ever before. Perhaps you have wanted to begin meditating yourself but aren’t sure where to start. That’s OK because meditation is not as difficult as you might believe.
Below are some benefits of meditation along with how to get started and some tips for beginners or anyone who wants a little help and reassurance about their technique.
The Benefits of Meditation
Most practitioners are drawn to meditation for its calming effect. Research has shown that EEG activity does decrease during meditation, indicating a lower level of stress. Meditating also leaves you with more energy to get through your day.
Meditation creates changes in the brain as well. Blood flow increases and the neurons are stimulated to create new paths and connections. Gray matter, the part of your brain that controls muscle function, vision, hearing, memory, emotions and speech, increases, too.
If you have been searching for a way to increase your concentration and focus in the fast-paced, online, news bite world, meditation can help by teaching to notice when your mind wanders and bring it back on track more quickly.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, anxiety or depression, meditation may help reduce the symptoms.
Tools for Meditation
Meditation doesn’t require special tools or clothing. All you need is:
- Something to sit on
- A timer
Consider using a chair as you learn meditation practices. The chair should encourage you to sit upright without slouching. If you prefer sitting on the ground or floor, you can use a meditation pillow designed to help you maintain your posture and an open chest.
The best thing for most people to sit on is a meditation bench. You can maintain an upright posture while taking the weight off your legs and feet.
As for a timer, you don’t need to go out and buy anything; most smartphones come with timers. Be sure to select a notification sound that is gentle, not jarring.
How to Meditate
Meditation is not difficult, at least not in the way you may fear. There is no need for a mantra or a special sitting position. You can use a mantra if you find it helps you enter and remain in meditation, but it is not required.
There is also no need to try to assume the lotus position or even crisscross-applesauce your legs. Cross them however you like and place your hands in a relaxed position, such as palms resting on thighs.
The key is a comfortable sitting posture with your back straight and your chest open so you can breathe easily because that is central to the practice of meditation. Breathing is what you will focus on as you begin to practice.
Your eyes can be open or closed, whichever is easier for you to focus on your breathing. If you feel yourself dozing off, just open your eyes slightly and focus on a bit of the floor or ground in front of you.
Finally, tilt your head down slightly to completely open your chest. Your mouth should remain closed.
- Get comfortable
- Start your timer (2-5 minutes at first)
- Bring your attention and focus on your breathing
- Gently bring your attention back to your breathing if your mind wanders
- When your timer goes off, you are done!
As you breathe, focus on some element of the air as it enters and leaves your body:
- How it feels as it enters and exits your nose
- How it feels as your lungs inflate and let go
- What it feels like just below your nose as the air moves
- The sound your breathing makes
See? The most difficult part, at least when you first begin, is keeping your focus on your breathing. The goal is to notice your focus has wavered more and more quickly so you can bring your mind back on task.
Now you know how meditation helps improve concentration.
A Few Tips
- Start with a small amount of time; you can go longer as you get better at focusing.
- Don’t try to clear your mind; it isn’t the goal of meditation to go completely blank.
- It is harder to maintain focus breathing out, so keep up your focus.
- If you have problems concentrating on breathing, count your breaths up to five and then start over.
Meditation works best if you do it every day. The morning is the best because it gives you that extra energy for your day. Just make the commitment to meditate and don’t beat yourself up if you think you didn’t do well. Any amount of meditation is beneficial.
Focus on your mind and body to learn how good you feel.