The people who have suggested it believed it would be very beneficial to me. It’s not something I have to do for my health, but all signs point to it being good for my health. Research suggests it decreases anxiety, stress, and depression, and increases memory, attention, immune function, and positive emotions. How could this be bad?
My friend Will swears by it, but he also learned to meditate when he was just a little kid from a guy he calls “The Swami”. Apparently, Will’s mom took him with her when she went to The Swami to learn to meditate and figured if it was good for her, it was good for Will. He has been meditating now for almost 45 years and since he’s successful, healthy, and definitely chill, I figure that’s a good endorsement. Brittan also meditates and knows how to ratchet herself down to a peaceful state.
I kept telling myself I would look into it. There are gobs of how-to articles to learn from, and Brittan even gave me a book about it, so it was time to get my meditation on!
Meditation trains your mind to focus on the moment instead of worrying about what occurred in the past or what could happen in the future. I understand the notion of getting out of my head because it happens when I exercise and especially during a good yoga session.
It only takes a few minutes–you don’t have to meditate for hours–and, like anything else, the more consistent you are, the easier it becomes. Some people call it being mindful. The goal, essentially, is to learn to be present. Like I mentioned above, you’re not worrying about what already happened or what’s coming up next. My concern about meditation has always been the same one a lot of people have–how do you focus and not fall asleep or let your mind wander? It turns out, as with anything, practice makes perfect–or at least makes improvement!
Here’s a very basic process I’ve boiled it down to.
1. Find a quiet place. Sit (up straight) on a chair or on the ground. I switch this up, depending on how my body feels.
2. Quiet your mind by concentrating or focusing on something like your breath, your heartbeat, a sound, or an object. I have a cool candle I light or I put on an instrumental song. If I play a song, I’ll only take as much time to meditate as the song takes to play, so it might take a couple tunes to get to five minutes of meditation, which is a good amount of time to start. I’m learning to not get mad when thoughts pop into my head. I just re-focus on whatever is helping me focus (breath, candle, music).
3. Relax after your focus time. Just sit. Give thanks for something–the few minutes you had to yourself, the friends you’ll see later, or the weather outside.
4. Transition your thoughts to how you physically feel–the relaxed state of your muscles and the steadiness of your heartbeat. This took me a while since at first there was no transition–I’d hardly focused at all.
I can’t yet imagine meditating for longer than about eight minutes. When I’m relaxed I tend to feel a little guilty and figure there’s something else I should be doing, which is something I think I will get past. It has also been tricky to understand how this benefits me yet. I think it’s just that being present–not thinking about anything–is rejuvenating, even if it is for a short time. I’m going to stick with this though. I mean, seriously, how much is anything going to suffer if it doesn’t get my attention for ten minutes?
My friend Will meditates every day after work and I imagine he doesn’t feel one bit guilty about it. We could all learn a lesson from a guy like that.
You can find a lot of information about how to meditate, so get started–you’ve got nothing to lose!
Do you already meditate? How long have you been doing it and how do you think it benefits you? I’d love to know your Meditation in Minutes secrets!