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For those who have never practiced it, the concept of meditation can sound intimidating. How exactly does one meditate? How do you know if you’re “doing it right?”
Practicing meditation has been scientifically proven to benefit both the mind and the body, boosting immunity, reducing blood pressure and inflammation, and improving mood and focus. Follow these simple tips to get started with meditation for yourself!
Start small and begin early.
When picturing someone meditating, we often imagine a blissed-out hippie sitting on a mountaintop for hours on end. Meditation doesn’t require such a major commitment, however! Start with just a two minute meditative practice. Though this might seem too easy, it’s actually the ideal way to begin. Commit to just two minutes of meditation each day, ideally as a part of your morning routine. This will ensure that you practice daily, which will improve your ability to focus. With time, you’ll find that you can more easily meditate for longer periods of time.
Though many experienced meditators find that sitting on the floor with their eyes closed works best for them, beginners shouldn’t stress about maintaining a certain posture while meditating. Put on some comfortable clothing, find a quiet room, and sit on a chair, your bed, or a couch. If you’re comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor, feel free to do so. The most important thing is to be comfortable enough to focus on your practice instead of the distractions in your surrounding environment.
Consider using guided meditations.
Do you have a brain that simply refuses to quiet down? If so, you may want to get started with guided meditations. These audio recordings, which are available online or via apps such as Insight Timer and Headspace, tend to utilize spoken words and music to aid listeners in achieving more meditative states of mind. Many guided meditations begin with a spoken segment before transitioning into music or silence. Though many guided meditations are fairly general, others are more thematic in nature, helping listeners target specific challenges in their lives. For both beginners and experts alike, guided meditations can enrich and deepen the meditative experience.
The most important part of meditation is breathing. To begin, focus on slowing down your breath. Turn your attention to the sensations behind your breathing. Does the air feel cool as it enters your nose, and warmer as you exhale? How deeply are you breathing? Throughout the day, most of us breathe shallowly, only allowing air into the top of our lungs. Relax your stomach and concentrate on breathing all the way down into your gut. Experience the way in which the body is nourished by inhaling and exhaling fully and deeply. This focus on the breath is the foundation of all meditative practices. By relaxing and breathing, everything else will fall into place.
Circle back to your body.
As you meditate, you may find your mind wandering. This is perfectly normal, even for experienced meditators. Try not to obsess over maintaining a totally blank state of mind. Instead, when you find your thoughts drifting, gently guide your focus back to the physical sensations occuring in your body. How are you feeling today? What is your present emotional state? Do a quick scan of your body and relax any tense muscles before refocusing on your breath. By returning to your body, you’ll return to the present moment.
Develop an attitude of kindness and self-love.
Meditation helps us learn to live in the present rather than fretting about the past or worrying about the future. A mindful acceptance of the present, and of the self, are a part of this, too. Be kind to yourself and your body as you practice meditation. To further support you on your journey towards wellness and self-love, consider taking up yoga, too.
Though meditating isn’t always easy, strive to end each session with a smile. Investing the time to take care of your body and mind is always worth it.
Though meditation may be challenging at first, stick with it! In this era of distraction, many of us find it particularly difficult to slow down and relax, making meditation more crucial than ever before. By dedicating just a few minutes to a meditative practice each day, you are practically guaranteed to see improvements in your mental and physical well-being.
Photo: © kite_rin / fotolia.com
Editor , 02/22/2018