Meditation… it sounds like an easy enough thing to do, just close your eyes and take deep breaths – right?? Well, there is a little more to the practice of meditating to fully reap the benefits of it!
When we meditate, we bring an awareness to ourselves and give our brain an intentional power to be mindful. Through meditation we use our breath as a form of self-discovery, and we are able to look into our innermost thoughts and feelings. Meditation is a life-transforming skill that benefits us by lowering stress levels, providing mental clarity, improving focus, connecting us to our purpose, and allowing us to understand our surroundings.
When you think about it, our minds are constantly buzzing and working to overcome the daily obstacles we have to face. This can sometimes be overwhelming, and meditation is a way to anchor ourselves in the present moment – without worry or judgment. Studies conducted on the human brain that show meditating for 8 weeks is associated with decreased stress, depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, and an increased quality of life. The more we meditate, the less energy we consume at rest, and it is easier to get into a more relaxed state. The practice of meditating helps optimize how the brain uses resources, and allows for the body to become more aware of its needs.
How Do You Meditate?
Now that you’ve heard about the benefits of meditating, how do you actually meditate? Do you sit or lay down? Do it in the morning or evening? What kind of breathing should you do? The answer is… it’s entirely up to YOU! The great thing about meditating is that you can listen to your body and what it needs, and that there is no right or wrong way to meditate.
While perhaps it may seem strange and daunting to sit in silence, it evokes a growing sense of awareness as to what is happening inside of us. Our mind is running the show most of the time, and meditation helps us relax and reduce brain chatter. Meditation activates our intentional brain, as we are on autopilot most of the time. The default processes we are accustomed to are counterbalanced when we practice mindfulness.
Meditation focuses on mindfulness by bringing our attention to our breath. We often have little narratives running through our minds, and meditation helps us focus on the present moment – our breath. Through meditation we are letting go of the past and future, and building awareness to the now.
Meditation Techniques & Tips
- Start small! Meditate for a couple of minutes each day and gradually work your way up to practicing for a longer amount of time. Anything counts, and you will be amazed by how your mind responds to simply focusing on breathing.
- Find a comfortable and safe space. Make sure you meditate in a spot that is free of any distractions and disruptions, as those can cause your mind to wander and get sidetracked. Whether you like to sit on a cushion, chair, or bed, or lie down on your yoga mat, make sure you are able to fully surrender yourself to the practice!
- Form a habit, and try to get into a routine of meditating at the same time each day. Make meditation either your morning, midday, or nighttime ritual!
- Follow your breath and focus on the sensation of your inhale and exhale, and if you notice that your mind is wandering simply return your attention to the breath. Be forgiving and kind with yourself if you notice your mind wandering – meditation requires patience, and is easier some days than others.
- Don’t get caught up in the how – just do it! Overthinking leads to procrastination – just meditate for a couple of minutes, in whatever way works for you. Check in with how you are feeling and what it is you want to release and let go of.
How to Make Mindfulness a Habit
Meditation takes practice, patience, and commitment. And, it isn’t always easy or even peaceful! That doesn’t mean your practice is ineffective… it’s important not too be hard on yourself. Meditation truly does have amazing benefits. It creates a sacred space that is just for you to experience. To make mindfulness a habit, commit to practicing whenever you can! You can meditate anywhere – mindfulness is a habit you will carry with you throughout life. When you are just starting to venture into the world of meditation, it may be helpful to start with guided meditations (if this intrigues you, check out the guided meditations on the EsVedra Wellness app). It may also be beneficial to check in with friends on your progress, or find a community that supports you.
Meditation is a beautiful practice that offers a pocket of stillness amid the outer chaos. It involves an open mind and the willingness to explore subtle and gradual changes within. These shifts may be intangible yet profound. The growing sense of awareness and mindfulness that meditation offers is unique to each person who delves into this practice. While patience and perseverance may be needed, challenge yourself to make meditation a daily ritual. Embrace meditation and let this transformative practice bring you to an elevated level of being.
Megan Binder (B.A Psychology)
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Puddicombe, A. (2021). Meditation for beginners. Retrieved April 09, 2021, from https://www.headspace.com/meditation/meditation-for-beginners
Schulte, B. (2019, May 03). Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, Here’s how it changes your brain. Retrieved April 09, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/26/harvard-neuroscientist-meditation-not-only-reduces-stress-it-literally-changes-your-brain/
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