Meditation Station: How to slow down in a hectic world.
Meditation - “Meditation enables one to focus on the present moment rather than dwell on the unchangeable past or the undetermined future.”
Very few people know what meditation is and the benefits that can come from practicing meditation.
Studies show that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.*
The purpose of meditation is simply to slow down and completely stop the incessant activity of our minds. Meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness. It is not an act of doing but rather a state of awareness. We are either in this state or we are not. True meditation is not simply sitting down in a quiet place to ponder, it is achieving a profound, deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent, while being completely alert. The problem is trying to achieve this state, and it can be done easily with a little practice.
Meditation is a very simple practice that people over complicate. This guide focuses on breathing meditation, where you focus on your breath (just like at the start and end of the Yoga class – that’s mindfulness meditation!)
Get comfortable. Open the timer on your phone, and get into an upright and comfortable posture in a quiet place and close your eyes, if there is random distant noise, disregard it.
Start your timer a calm alarm. Start with five minutes, progress to 10 after a week
Bring your attention to focus to your breath. This is what meditation is all about, and this is what makes meditation both difficult and worthwhile. Close your mouth and focus entirely on your breath as it enters and leaves your nose. You can focus on any element of your breath that you want – from how the air feels as it enters and leaves your nose or to how the air feels as you inflate and deflate your lungs. Don’t force your breathing here – just breathe naturally and observe your breath without thinking too much about it.
Don’t think. This is the hard part. Don’t analyse your breath; just bring your attention and focus to your breath, without thinking about it or analyzing it.
Bring your attention back to your breath when it wanders. And it will. When your mind wanders, and it will, gently bring your attention back to your breath once you realize that your mind has wandered. You may not clue in at first that your mind has started thinking again, but when you do, gently bring your attention back. Don’t be hard on yourself during this stage, acknowledge the thought shift then gently bring your attention back.
Again, bring your mind back when it wanders. When your mind begins to think, gently bring your attention back to only your breath. When your mind begins to think about how boring meditation is, gently bring your attention back to your breath. When your mind becomes restless, bring in your attention again. Keep doing this until your meditation timer rings. Meditate first thing in the morning for 5/10 minutes and gradually incorporate this before bed also. If you wish for unguided you can follow the steps above.
We have access to more information than ever before. Tidbits of information are slung our way from several sources and this - unfortunately - isn’t making us any smarter. In fact, our ability to focus and concentrate has never been as bad.
Having problems concentrating isn’t just a kid thing, it has never been more prominent among adults especially the millennial generation. Interestingly but not surprisingly, one of the central benefits of meditation is that it improves attention and concentration.
I personally love Meditation for this reason. Not only does it calm me down but it allows me to focus (something that has been a struggle for me over the years)
How to Start:
If you are new its best to try a guided app first then progress onto unguided. Two of my favorite apps are:
“Calm” https://www.calm.com/ - Which I am currently using.
“headspace” https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app - this is great if you are a complete and total beginner and it offers a 10 day free trial before you sign-up to anything.
Make sure you enjoy the sound of the person narrating the apps voice, otherwise you will find your meditation practice as a source of aggravation rather than relaxation. :)