Have you been hearing a lot about meditation? Many people say that meditation has had a great positive impact on their life, but you may not even know what meditation is or how to get started. You’re not alone!
I’ve done my research, and I’m convinced that the benefits of meditation are real. Now, I just need to incorporate this healthy habit into my life!
I’ve given it a try but often feel like I don’t know if I really even meditated. It felt like I was just sitting there going over my to-do list or thinking about the process of meditating itself.
Meditation may seem like a weird technique that doesn’t really do anything. But you may be surprised after meditating only a few times. My experience is that I can better slow my thoughts and find calm after only a week of meditating regularly.
It is said that as you become more concentrated during meditation, you can experience a refreshing state of natural clarity. Give your mind a rest and you’ll be able to be more fully present in your life.
Any opportunity to make yourself a little better is worth considering. Read on to get the information you need to decide if a meditation will help you move down the path of happiness.
What is Meditation?
The act of meditating seems to mean different things to different people.
While meditating, some say you’re trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. Have you ever tried to completely turn off your thoughts? It’s fairly impossible.
I like the explanation that during meditation you’re learning to calm your thoughts and observe them without judgment. The ultimate goal is to better understand your thoughts.
“The joy is in the journey” seems to fit meditation. It’s a skill that you can practice, and sometimes you’ll be better focused than other times.
You don’t just sit down one day and master the skill. Instead, little by little, you’ll improve and notice subtle benefits. Enjoy each step along the way, and know that you’re taking steps to make life a little better for yourself.
Sometimes people think that meditation is the same thing as prayer, but it is not. Prayer is about petitioning to and worshiping a higher power. Meditation has nothing to do with religion, is not related to any religion, and does not offend any religion.
Benefits of Meditation
While doing my research, I found some really good sources for learning about why we should consider giving meditation a try. According to Healthline, there are 12 science-based benefits of meditation:
1 – Reduces stress
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SUMMARY: Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress. Meditation can also reduce symptoms in people with stress-triggered medical conditions.
2 – Controls anxiety
SUMMARY: Habitual meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
3 – Promotes emotional health
SUMMARY: Some forms of meditation can improve depression and create a more positive outlook on life. Research shows that maintaining an ongoing habit of meditation may help you maintain these benefits long term.
4 – Enhances self-awareness
SUMMARY: Self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help you “know yourself.” This can be a starting point for making other positive changes.
5 – Lengthens attention span
SUMMARY: Several types of meditation may build your ability to redirect and maintain attention. As little as four days of meditation may have an effect.
6 – May reduce age-related memory loss
SUMMARY: The improved focus you can gain through regular meditation may increase memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.
7 – Can generate kindness
SUMMARY: Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a practice of developing positive feelings, first toward yourself and then toward others. Metta increases positivity, empathy and compassionate behavior toward others.
8 – May help fight addictions
SUMMARY: Meditation develops mental discipline and willpower and can help you avoid triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help you recover from addiction, lose weight and redirect other unwanted habits.
9 – Improves sleep
SUMMARY: A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control the “runaway” thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.
10 – Helps control pain
SUMMARY: Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used as a supplement to medical care or physical therapy.
11 – Can decrease blood pressure
SUMMARY: Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation, but also over time in individuals who meditate regularly. This can reduce strain on the heart and arteries, helping prevent heart disease.
12 – You can meditate anywhere
SUMMARY: If you’re interested in incorporating meditation into your routine, try a few different styles and consider guided exercises to get started with one that suits you.
But wait, there’s more…
One other benefit of meditation that I read about is one that I very much want to reap…
Although meditation has great calming effects, it also helps you to recharge so you have more energy throughout the day. *
Yes! I love feeling calm yet I also could use more energy. Calm, energy, and sleep are enough of benefit to convince me that I need to practice meditation.
Science spoke… the benefits can make a positive impact on the quality of your life.
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How to do Meditation at Home
Although meditation is becoming a more well-known practice, what exactly it is still might seem like somewhat of a mystery to you. Do I need to sit cross-legged, hold my thumbs and middle fingers together, and maybe hum some type of mantra? If you want to do that, go for it.
No matter the details of how you choose to meditate, the main concept of meditating is to simply take a break from your constant way of thinking.
Allow your attention to focus on your breathing. Notice the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body. Observe every aspect of how it feels as the air comes into your body, and how it exits. Breathing through your nose is optimal. It’s that simple, and anyone can do it.
There’s no right and wrong way to meditate. Meditation can be as simple as taking a few minutes to slow your breathing and attempting to stop your thought. Or maybe you want to close your eyes and hum a mantra to keep your mind focused.
That being said, here are a few basic suggestions to get your new habit of meditation started.
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The Basics of Meditating
Time Needed to Meditate:
Again, there are no hard rules for how long you need to meditate. Some days you may only have time for a few minutes, while other days you might find a couple 20-minute time slots available.
Setting a timer is a good idea. I use the convenient timer feature on my phone. If you don’t set a time, you will likely find yourself wondering about the time that has lapsed. Set the timer and forget it!
How to Sit when Meditating:
Being comfortable is important. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to be likely to make it a life-long habit. If you find yourself uncomfortable after you start your session, it’s okay to adjust yourself to get comfortable.
Start by sitting in a chair that you find comfortable. Your back should be straight. Good posture will help your body remain alert and focused.
You may prefer to sit on the floor with your legs criss-crossed. Using one of the many affordable meditation cushions on the market will support your sitting posture and help you get into the mind frame to meditate.
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Whether you decide to use a chair, cushion, or floor – all are a fine choice. However, sitting with a cushion on the floor is the optimal meditation position because it allows you to stay wide awake for long periods of time.
It’s best to rest your arms on your thighs, with your hands relaxed and palms facing upward. Keep your back straight and head level. It’s easier to focus if you close your eyes. If keeping your eyes open feels better for you, just be sure to focus off into the distance.
As you continue to practice, your body will get used to sitting in meditation and it will all become more comfortable.
Where to Meditate:
You can meditate in any relatively quite place. I have taken a break at work and went out to my car for a 10 minute break to get quiet and calm.
Just pick a place where hopefully you won’t have any interruptions. If I find myself with a few extra minutes in the morning before I need to leave for work, I sit in a living room chair.
Some people have a room or corner dedicated to meditating. It doesn’t need to be big or fancy. Create an environment that makes you feel peaceful.
Here are a few items that might help you get ideas for how you can create a meditation space in your home.
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Resources for Getting Started on Your Meditation Journey
If you feel like you want a more specific direction on how to start meditating, there are numerous resources to help you. Here are some of my favorite.
1 – Meditation Apps
Technology can help! Meditation apps available on your smartphone are a great way to get started. They take you through guided thought.
I’ve used both Simple Habit and Headspace. They have some free meditations, and you can upgrade to get access to their full library.
With these apps, you can specify the amount of time you want to meditate. Select a 5, 10, or 20 minute meditation.
This is my favorite way to meditate when I need to just sneak away to de-stress, even if there is some light background noise. Being mobile, the apps are very convenient. Go to the parking lot at work and listen in your parked car.
2 – There’s a Podcast For That
There are free podcasts that take you through guided meditations. They are completely free and convenient. I especially enjoy the Hay House Meditations podcast.
Also, there is a specific episode on The Chalene Show podcast that answers all your questions on meditating. Listen to it here: MEDITATION FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T GET IT BUT REALLY NEED IT.
In this episode, Chalene’s guest Andrew Kelley, a.k.a. “The Boston Buddha” tells you how to get started, and also answers questions about meditation.
- Do I have to close my eyes?
- Do I have to sit with my legs crossed?
- Where should I meditate and for how long?
- And, most importantly, WHY should I meditate?
I’m not into mantras, but I like Andy’s suggestion of repeating to yourself “so-hum” while you meditate. It really helps me keep my focus. Listen to that episode, it’s extremely helpful.
To learn more about podcasts and how to get started, read Amazing World of Free and Popular Podcasts.
3 – Dan Harris’ Program for Learning to Meditate
Dan Harris is co-anchor of both Nightline and the weekend edition of Good Morning America on ABC News. Before that, he was the anchor of the Sunday edition of World News.
After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan found meditation and then wrote 10% Happier, as a way to convince fellow skeptics to give the practice a shot. Try Dan’s “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” program free for 7-days.
Dan wrote the following books that have received raving reviews. His books will certainly help you be successful in your journey of mediation.
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4 – Take a Class
Taking a class that teaches you about meditation and takes you through meditations is a quick way to learn by doing.
The only downfall of taking a class is that it takes a bit more time than simply giving it a try on your own at home. However, if you have the opportunity in your community, a class would get you started on the right path.
5 – Meditation Videos
Youtube is filled with free videos to help you get started with meditation. There are many videos for guided meditations, background music for meditating, and so much more. This video is meant for beginners.
Just Do It!
My first few attempts at meditation went something like this…
Ok self, the time is set for 20 minutes so just turn off your thoughts. Sounds easy enough. Go!
[Thoughts]…. ah, this is nice… oh I have to remember to make an appointment for the dog… I should get him some more of those new treats he likes so much… maybe I should get chicken for dinner while I’m out… oops! I’m not supposed to be thinking. Ok. I’m done thinking… I hear the air conditioner, I’ll just focus on that so I stop thinking… are my thoughts stopped? Nope. Hm. Ok, I’ll start now!
And my thoughts never really stopped the whole 20 minutes. That monologue slowed down a bit, but never really stopped.
However, each time I took time to meditate, I gradually got better at slowing my thoughts. When you find your thoughts wandering, gently guide them back to focus on your breathing.
There’s no doubt that the benefits are worth the effort. The proof is real and I want you to have the benefit for yourself!
So that, my friend, is what meditation is and how to start it. I hope you decide to join me in my goal of adopting a regular meditation routine into your daily life. You have nothing to lose as it costs nothing and takes little time. Why not try something that could make life a little better for yourself?
DID YOU ENJOY THIS POST? Please follow me on Pinterest and drop me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you. Do you meditate and have any tips to share? Or maybe you want to declare that you’re with me on my new journey?
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