Meditation is a powerful technique for calming your mind and body. It helps relieve stress and prevents illness.
Meditation has roots in ancient philosophies and several world religions. But you don’t have to be religious to meditate.
Like learning any other skill, it takes consistent practice to get comfortable. Here are some tips to help you begin your meditation journey:
It Helps You Focus
In meditation, you train your mind to focus on something that helps you stay in the present moment. This is one of the most important aspects of this practice, especially for people who experience high levels of stress and anxiety.
You can focus on an object, an image or a mantra. Some meditation techniques involve relaxing breathing, in which you try to slow your physiology and use your diaphragm muscles to fill your lungs with oxygen to increase your energy and alertness.
Some forms of meditation help you think about others with feelings like love, compassion and kindness. This helps you develop a stronger connection with the world around you and decrease your sense of loneliness. When you meditate, you also learn to reframe thoughts and actions that can distract you from being focused. For example, switching from viewing your day as busy to focusing on it as productive can make a big difference in how energizing you feel about your daily activities.
It Helps You Relax
Meditation helps you relax by reducing the activity in your brain associated with self-referential, stress-producing thoughts. It also helps to calm the sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate, breathing and blood pressure during times of anxiety.
Guided meditations designed to help you relax may offer body relaxation exercises or soothing visualizations, and they’re often supported by soothing music or sounds. You can practice meditation in many different positions or activities, including sitting cross-legged, lying down or walking, depending on your preferences and lifestyle.
A regular meditation practice helps you develop mental resilience, which makes it easier for you to regain control after experiencing stress or disappointment. It also teaches you to accept your feelings rather than trying to push them away, which can add to the emotional toxicity in your body and lead to illness. This type of resiliency is especially helpful when a person experiences an unexpected medical event. It can also reduce the impact of a chronic disease and improve quality of life for people with cancer, asthma or other conditions.
It Helps You Manage Stress
Meditation helps you manage stress by allowing you to observe your thoughts and feelings without getting pulled into the melodrama that often accompanies emotional reactivity. When you learn to witness your inner commotion, you can more easily see that difficult emotions are simply passing through.
In addition, when you meditate regularly, you strengthen your mental resilience to stress and anxiety. It’s like a regular workout for your mind. With time, your’mental fitness’ improves and you’re less likely to get caught up in the ‘what if’ scenarios or future anxieties that cause so much stress.
Many people can practice meditation while sitting up or lying down, but some prefer to move around while they’re meditating. Some types of meditation include yoga, which can help you build flexibility and strength in your body, as well as mindfulness meditation that combines physical movement with focused attention. Some practitioners of meditation use a mantra, repeating words or phrases aloud or silently, sometimes timed with the breath, to focus their attention.
It Helps You Make Better Decisions
In making decisions, your state of mind plays a big role. This is why meditation can help you become more intelligent and make better choices. It can also help you avoid mental traps like emotional reasoning, so you can think more rationally and avoid costly mistakes.
For example, if you’re feeling anxious, meditation can help you manage your anxiety and remain calm. This way, you can focus on the facts and consider different outcomes of your decision.
Meditation can be done in many ways, but it usually involves sitting or lying down and paying attention to your breath and bodily sensations. It can also be done with a group of people or one-on-one with a teacher. If you’re not used to meditating, it might feel distracting at first because of things like sounds or your dog barking or meowing in the background. But try to stay focused and be patient as you progress through your practice.