If you’re wondering how to meditate, it’s most likely because you’ve heard all sorts of things about how good it can be for you.
People love to suggest meditation for a variety of reasons: to reduce stress and anxiety, to relieve depression, to sleep, to make you feel more present, to magically transform you into a better, more grounded human being.
The affirmations are endless, as well as its benefits. Many people consider it to be a very worthwhile practice, and we agree.
With everything that is going on in the world, it is a good time to explore meditation and see if it can be useful for you too.
Meditation may seem simple – and in many ways it is – but people are often unsure where to start and if they are doing it correctly.
What is meditation?
The first thing is that there are many types of meditation.
Meditation is generally used as an umbrella term covering a wide range of contemplative practices, many of which are drawn from Buddhist traditions but have often been adapted and secularized for application in Western society.
With this in mind, the questions of what meditation is and how to meditate are not exactly easy.
It’s like asking how sports are played. Just as different sports have important things in common (such as competition and physical activity), meditation also has basic principles.
Meditation is not about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person.
It’s about training your awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective.
You don’t try to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You are learning to observe them without judging them.
And, over time, you can also begin to understand them better.
Meditation could be defined as any practice that cultivates inner investigation.
Benefits of Meditation
If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often a result. In the 1970s, Dr. Herbert Benson, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response” after conducting research with people who practiced transcendental meditation.
The relaxation response, in Benson’s words, is “an opposite and involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”
Since then, studies of the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved blood circulation
- Decreased heart rate
- less sweating
- Reduced respiratory rate
- less anxiety
- Decreased cortisol levels in the blood
- Greater sense of well-being
- Less stress
- deeper relaxation
In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is freeing the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions.
The liberated or “enlightened” practitioner no longer unnecessarily follows desires or clings to experiences, but maintains a calm mind and a sense of inner harmony.
How to Meditate: Simple Meditation for Beginners
This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.
- Sit or lie down comfortably. You can even use a meditation chair or cushion.
- Close your eyes.
- Do not force yourself to control your breath; just breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on your breath and how your body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Observe the movement of your body as you breathe. Look at the chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its rhythm or intensity. If your mind wanders, refocus on your breath.
Hold this meditation practice for two to three minutes to begin with, and then try it for longer periods.
Why meditation should not be missing in your daily life
Don’t get frustrated if meditation doesn’t work right away. If you keep falling asleep or no images appear in your mind’s eye.
Like so many times in our lives, the saying “practice makes perfect” applies here too. So learning to meditate takes time.
Therefore, our advice is to incorporate meditation into your daily routine as a fixed ritual.
Because when you meditate, you establish a positive anchor and direct your self-perception and your thoughts on a different path.
New synapses are formed in the brain. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could realign your life? To finally get answers to so many questions, to get more and more clarity… Your brain is programmed for good things, like more compassion and less anxiety.