A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to get caught up in a constant stream of thoughts and worries. Our brains are so used to multitasking that sometimes it seems like they are running on autopilot. Thankfully, practices like mindfulness and meditation exist to center ourselves and regain control of what’s happening right now in this very moment.
The benefits of meditation are numerous. Studies have shown that meditation not only eases stress and anxiety, but can potentially alter the physical brain and body for a healthier lifestyle.1 It has been used for centuries for a whole host of reasons including better mood, improved self-esteem, easing of stomach troubles, and the list goes on. Whatever the reason may be, meditation can help anyone seeking a higher quality of life achieve just that.
Getting started with the basics of meditation requires time, focus, and commitment. To begin, simply find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down without any distractions. You don’t necessarily have to be sitting upward and cross-legged to meditate. Sitting in a chair or lying in bed is fine if this is a more comfortable position for you. Next, turn your attention inward toward your breath and take a deep breath in and another deep breath out. Continue doing this until you start to feel more relaxed and then allow your eyes to close when you are ready.
You may continue taking deep breaths or return to a normal breathing pattern after the eyes are closed. Keep attention focused solely on the inhalation followed by exhalation. During this time, it is normal for random thoughts to surface. Instead of struggling to stop thoughts that arise, try looking at them from an objective point of view. You do not have to identify with them or continue the thought process down the rabbit hole. Just notice the thoughts, allow them to pass, and then return your focus back to the breath.
In the beginning, thoughts may tend to arise every few seconds. With more practice, it will be easier to focus solely on the breath and then allow those thoughts to drift away like clouds in the sky or fallen leaves in a quiet stream. Soon it will become apparent that you are much more than just your thoughts. You are also a conscious body observing the present moment without attachment to the past or the future.
For best results, make meditation part of your daily wellness routine upon waking up in the morning, or before going to bed at nighttime. Start slowly by dedicating about 10 minutes to the practice, then increase the amount of time by 5-minute increments every few days or so. It becomes even easier to make a conscious effort in being totally present and letting go of any burdensome thoughts with some time and practice. With this new tool at your disposal, inner peace is available anytime you need it!