Meditation has many health benefits and is a highly effective way to relieve stress and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
With practice, meditation becomes both more of an easy habit to maintain and more of an effective one as well, given that it builds resilience to stress over time.
Practicing mindfulness meditation can be an effective way to manage feelings of stress and anxiety, and can even be used as a relaxation technique for panic disorder. This meditation technique can help you slow down racing thoughts, decrease negativity, and calm both your mind and body.
Here's how to begin a basic meditation practice:
Step 1: Get Into a Comfortable Position
Choose where and how you'll sit. Many people like to sit in a comfortable chair while others prefer to sit cross-legged on the ground. You want to be able to completely relax while still staying awake.
If you choose to sit in a chair, sit toward the front of the seat and place your feet firmly on the floor. This will improve your posture and help you concentrate on your practice.
Step 2: Close Your Eyes Gently
When you are in a comfortable position, look into the distance with a soft gaze, then slowly lower your lids. Keep your jaw slack and slightly open as well. You want to relax all of your facial muscles.
At this stage, your goal is to relax every part of your body. If you feel some tension in certain parts of your body, take a deep breath and allow it to relax you.
Step 3: Put Thoughts Aside
While you can't control your thoughts, you can control how much power they have over you. This doesn't mean you should ignore or suppress them, but simply remain calm, note them, and then use your breathing to bring you back to the moment. Learning to do this during your meditation practice can help you to let things go in the rest of your life as well.
Tip: If you get carried away in your thoughts, don't be hard on yourself. Take a moment, without judgement, to observe where your mind went off to and then return to your breathing.
Step 4: Keep Going
That’s it, really! Keep putting aside any thoughts that may pop into your mind. The quiet spaces between thoughts will become longer and more frequent the longer you practice.
Tips to Help Your Meditation Practice
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind as you move along on the road to mediation.
Give it time
Meditation takes practice and a lot of it. If you’re expecting to do it "perfectly," you may actually create more stress than you relieve. There is no "perfect" meditation session and if you go into it with an expectation of perfection, you may let yourself down and won’t want to stick with it.
Start Small and Work Up
Begin with a short session of 5 minutes. After you are comfortable, move to 10 or 15 minutes until you are comfortable meditating for 30-minute sessions.
Track Your Time and Set Goals
It can be easy to lose track of time while meditating and two minutes can seem like an eternity when you are just beginning. This can cause you to worry and have thoughts like "Is my time up?" or "Have I meditated long enough?"
Be sure to use a gentle tone or set it to vibrate so it doesn't startle you when time is up, then turn off the screen and relax.
With practice, you may eventually find yourself saying, "Wow, that was 10 minutes? I could go longer!" When you are comfortable, skip the timer and allow your meditations to last as long as needed.