There is nothing better than starting or ending your day with meditation. Meditation is of course great for reflecting on a feeling or setting an intention, but the list of benefits far surpasses that. Benefits of meditation include:
- Reducing stress
- Lowering blood pressure
- Giving you better control over emotions
- Lengthening attention span
- Improving sleep
- Reducing age related memory loss
If you are new to the idea of meditation it can seem ambiguous and hard to grasp. Webster’s dictionary defines meditation as; “closed or continued thought; the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind; serious contemplation; reflection; musing.” It is the willingness and the ability to acknowledge all thoughts while holding none. It is in the breath and in the body, letting go of the mind. For most it is a spiritual practice but many practice meditative skills in the gym, cold plunging, or in a sport.
However you intend to start or further your own practice, we hope these tips will be helpful. It is recommended that you begin your practice in a comfortable seated or lying down position with little distraction.
They say that a majority of the benefits of meditation comes from the breath. There are dozens and dozens of breathing techniques to help slow the mind, increase blood flow and promote a meditative state. One easy breathing technique for beginners to try is a technique referred to as square breathing. This method requires you to take a deep breath into the nose for a count of four, gently hold your breath for another count of four, slowly exhale for four seconds, hold again for a count of four and repeat this as many times as you would like. This technique floods the body and brain with fresh oxygen and promotes relaxation by increasing the tone of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Pick a Mantra
Especially when working on setting an intention, picking a mantra can be extremely helpful. A simple mantra can aid in maintaining focus and putting your energy where desired. A mantra can be an “I can” statement or an “I am” statement. It can be a prayer or a motivational chant. It can be whatever speaks true to where you are at that the present moment. A couple suggestions (not rules) when picking a mantra:
- Avoid words of negation (not, won’t, can’t). If you want to stop doing something, put the opposing. So instead of “I won’t mindlessly eat” try “I am mindful about what I eat.”
- Match your intention. Make sure you get crystal clear with yourself on what your deepest motivation for meditating is. Is it to let go of constant stress? Perhaps, “I am a vessel of peace” is the mantra for you.
- Follow your intuition. If there is a phrase or set of words you can’t seem to let go of, perhaps there is a reason.
- Make sure it is easy to remember. You don’t want to spend your time meditating, trying to rack your brain for your mantra. It should flow like a song.
Scan your body
Meditation is a beautiful technique to connect the body, mind and spirit. Allowing your awareness to go deeper into your body rather than your mind can help slow thoughts and direct intention. A slow, intentional scan of each part of your body allows you to acknowledge and check in with each part of your body. Some picture a light that they move through the body.
Begin in the top of the head, then behind the eyes. Go to the tip of the nose, extending to behind the ears. Lips, chin, neck, and shoulders. Next we spend time in our chest and in our heart. Above our navel and into our lower abdomen. Our pelvis and hips, through our legs and our knees. All the way down to the tippy toes and back up. Repeat this several times with a calm and steady breath. Checking in with each and every part of the body.
Set a timer
So that you do not get distracted by a busy day and the urge to constantly look at the clock, a timer set for the duration of the meditation is best. Designate some uninterrupted time, even as little as five or ten minutes, set a timer and don’t think about the clock again. It can be tempting to check the time if your keeping a tight schedule so this allows you to be punctual while also letting you stay mindful and present in your meditation.
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of meditation. There are so many techniques to help you get into a meditative state, including some of the examples given above. For additional help, Guided meditations can be extremely helpful. You can even find ones to match specific intentions or to work on certain breathing techniques. Whatever way you choose to practice, remember that it is just that, A PRACTICE! Each time you are working to get better, for it to become easier, and to experience what each meditation has to offer.