We know that we need to train our bodies, investing time daily to become stronger and more physically fit. But have you ever considered training your mind with meditation?
The thought of sitting still and quiet for several hours would be very challenging to the untrained beginner. With practice, you can learn to quiet your mind, and reap the benefits of a more relaxed manner of being. Sometimes mindfulness is practiced as well depending on the type of meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated or “enlightened” practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.
Taking regular, slow, deep and quiet breaths helps to calm your body and mind. It’s believed that this type of breathing will help lower blood pressure and help reduce stress and anxiety.
These benefits can be experienced immediately:
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved blood circulation
- Lower heart rate
- Less perspiration
- Slower respiratory rate
- Less anxiety
- Lower blood cortisol levels
- More feelings of well-being
- Less stress
- Deeper relaxation
How to Meditate
The traditional way to mediate is to sit cross-legged on a mat on the floor, but you can also sit in a chair or even lie on the floor. You can practice meditation on your own, or join a group guided by a professional instructor. Meditation is safe for most people, but if you have a history of depression, check with your doctor first.
- Sit or lie comfortably.
- Close your eyes.
- Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.
- Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.
An important part of meditating, is focusing on your breath. Try to count your breaths as they come in, and also as they come out. Count to 10, and then start again at one. A good time to mediate is first thing in the morning, but really you can do it anytime and anywhere. In the park, while you’re commuting to work, or even in the office.
Meditation is a good way to get to know yourself, to be more thoughtful and kinder to yourself. You will be surprised how much less stressed and anxious you will feel.