A Simple Guide to Meditation
We often spend our days going through our routine schedules without pausing for a moment to sit, be still, relax, and take a break. Forgoing time to unwind can begin impacting our lives in ways that even escape our own attention. When we experience stress, anger, anxiety and other emotions it does not only affect us personally, but also the people around us. When we aren’t our best selves it is easy to take it out on others. We cannot reach our full potential and accomplish important goals while experiencing these emotions. So what can we do to help alleviate the stress of life? …Meditation!
Meditation has recently increased in popularity throughout the western world due to the research echoing the health benefits of a regular practice. So, what is meditation and how does it help us regulate emotions and improve our overall mental health? Continue reading and learn how to get started!
What is mediation?
Mediation is a mental exercise where one uses techniques such as concentration of the breath for the purpose of reaching spiritual awareness, training attention, and/or attaining a clear mental state. Meditating is about getting a healthy sense of perspective. It is also important to know that even if you are not experiencing distress, you can still benefit from its positive effects.
What are the benefits?
Mental health benefits:
There are many positive health benefits associated with meditation. Some of these include: increased awareness, clarity, compassion, improved focus and a sense of calm. According to Headspace, meditation has also been proven to help “psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain related stress.”
Physical health benefits:
Stress impacts your body physically. “Chronic spikes in stress hormones can lead to an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels, disrupting immunity, energy levels, and sleep.” Disrupted sleep and insomnia is a condition that many people experience due to stress. Sleep Review magazine recently shared the benefits of a new holistic approach to treat insomnia that deals with a new developed software as treatment. Practicing meditation is also a holistic approach where the body and mind are relaxed causing the body to stop releasing stress hormones (epinephrine and cortisol).
How to get started
There are many ways to start meditating and there are many apps and (free) resources that can help guide you. The following steps take an approach to mindfulness meditation. It is meant to focus on the breath and anchor yourself in the present.
Step 1: Sit or lay in a comfortable position
Set a time limit for how long you would like to meditate. If this is your first time, it can help to choose a short amount of time (5-10 minutes).
Step 2: Paying attention to your breath
Close your eyes and begin to breathe in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice your body and how each breath feels as you inhale and exhale.
Step 3: Notice if your mind has wandered
It is normal to have passing thoughts as you try to concentrate on your breath. Acknowledge those thoughts in a non judgemental way and return your attention to the breath.
Step 4: End with kindness
When you’re ready or if your timer has stopped, gently open your eyes. Take a moment to notice how your body feels. Notice the environment around you, and notice your thoughts and emotions after taking the time to be present for yourself.
That’s it! If you practice meditation everyday you will notice the great benefits it has to offer!
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips on how to start your journey to a more balanced mind and body. Below are some great and free apps for guided meditations available for iOS and Android…
1) Insight Timer:
2) Smiling Mind:
3) Stop, Breathe & Think:
4) Headspace (7-day free trial):