Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. When we pay attention to our breath, we are learning how to return to, and remain in, the present moment—to anchor ourselves in the here and now on purpose, without judgement.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years, although it has recently gained more mainstream traction thanks to scientific research providing proof of its powerful benefits. During meditation, brain scans show increased activity in regions directly correlated with decreased anxiety and depression along with increased pain tolerance. The “default mode network” in particular is activated when one’s mind is at rest and not focusing on the outside world. This has been found to improve memory, self-awareness and goal setting. Meditation changes your brain waves and we can measure these frequencies. People who meditate have higher levels of alpha waves which have been shown to reduce feelings of negative mood, tension, sadness and anger. Meditation can better prepare us for the work day by boosting concentration, improving outlook and has even been found to help manage symptoms of high blood pressure, sleep issues and headaches.
There is a lot of misinformation surrounding meditation so let me clear this up: You do not need a ton of extra time to meditate. You can benefit from even just a couple minutes of meditation daily. Additionally, Its important to understand that absolute mind silence is not necessary. The ability to clear ones mind is like building a muscle, your ability to do so will get stronger with time. 70% of people who meditate say they do not clear their mind completely and research shows that a wandering mind can still effectively meditate.
Meditation is something anyone can do, but harder than most people think.
Practice by trying this:
1) Take a seat Find place to sit that feels calm, comfortable and quiet to you.
2) Set a time limit If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.
3) Notice your body You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while. Your eyes can be open or closed.
4) Feel your breath Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out.
In and out
Feeling the breath go in through your belly button
Roll up your back
Out through your mouth
In a constant loop
5) Notice when your mind has wandered Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—simply return your attention to the breath.
6) Be kind to your wandering mind Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
7) Close with kindness When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
That’s it! That’s the practice.
You go away, you come back, and you try to do it as kindly as possible.
The key is to commit to sit every day, even if it’s for a few minutes..
The most important moment in your meditation practice is the moment you sit down to do it.