You knew it was coming, didn’t you?
You knew I wouldn’t ignore the physical, mental, psychological, emotional, and spiritual benefits of meditation when discussing natural health and beauty. And yet, some of you resisted. And you’re still resisting because you Just Don’t Want to Meditate. Or you Just Don’t Have the Time. Or you Just Don’t See the Point.
I won’t be coy and pretend it’s easy to learn or to practice. I won’t tell you you’ll gain psychic superpowers or solve all your problems overnight.
I will, however, remind you of the benefits of learning to meditate and of putting that practice to use.
- Reduced stress
- Strengthened immune system
- Increased productivity
- Greater sense of overall wellbeing
- Feeling of “purpose”
- Enhanced mental, emotional, and psychological stability
- Reduced anxiety, fatigue, and depression
- Regulated blood pressure
- Decreased heart rate
- Lowered levels of stress hormones, like cortisol
- Lowered cholesterol levels
- Regulated breathing and increased lung capacity
- Increased creativity
- Improved comprehension and memory
- Greater sense of living in the present moment
- Greater sense of compassionate self-awareness and acceptance
Beginners often start with a practice called “mindfulness meditation.” This easy-to-learn seated meditation increases your awareness of the present moment and brings calm, steady attention to the natural flow of thoughts streaming through your mind.
It requires no dogma, no faith, no organized religion or belief system—just steady breath and compassion for your own humanness.
Stuff to Know:
- Meditation should be used in conjunction with conventional medical or psychological care, not as a substitute for it. If you are suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, severe anxiety, an eating disorder, or other psychological or emotional distress, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional before practicing meditation.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
It can be easier to learn mindfulness meditation by focusing your awareness on only one sensation, object, or thought, such as your breath, a candle, or the concept of forgiveness. Set aside a quiet spot to practice and wear comfortable, nonrestrictive clothes.
- Sit in a comfortable position on a folded blanket, bolster, or firm cushion. You can also sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor and your hands resting in your lap. Adjust your position so your spine is erect. Sit with your head, neck, and spine in one straight line.
- Close your eyes.
- Begin to steady your breath by inhaling for a count of five and exhaling for five. After a few of these deep breaths, breathe naturally again. Notice the way the air feels as it travels in and out of your body through your nose.
- Continually bring your awareness back to your breath, in and out, in and out.
- Do not force yourself to concentrate. Simply notice when your mind wanders, and then gently bring your awareness back to your breath. Consistently returning to the present moment takes patience and dedication.
- Be careful not to punish yourself for wandering thoughts. Thinking is the natural state of your mind. Meditation is not a competition.
- Now bring your awareness to the object of your focus. This might still be your breath. If it’s an object, like a candle, soften your gaze.
- Maintain your awareness. When your thoughts start to wander, gently guide them back to the object of your focus. Don’t fight the thoughts. Simply acknowledge them and let them pass, like clouds floating by or like ocean waves.
- Do this exercise for 10 minutes a day, gradually extending your sessions to 20 or 30 minutes.
- Start small! Even 1-2 minutes a day will bring you great benefits, when practiced every day.
- Don’t get too comfortable. You don’t want to fall asleep! If you easily doze off when trying to meditate, take the necessary steps to address fatigue and sleep problems outside of your meditation practice.
Do you meditate?
Do you have any tips for practicing meditation or establishing a practice?