Many studies have been done on meditation and its impact on the body and mind. Some suggest that meditating on a regular basis is good for emotional, physical and mental health and provides cognitive, psychological, and medical benefits. The following benefits, however, are not based on organized research. They have been compiled by meditation enthusiasts who have found that the practice has enriched and improved their lives.
Most people sit up when they meditate, because it is too easy to fall asleep if they lie down. You can sit on the floor, a chair, a bench, a yoga mat, or a cushion… whatever you find most comfortable. There are special cushions made for meditating.
Start out small. Begin with 5 minute sessions, work up to 10, then 15, etc. until you are meditating 30 minutes. If you can’t fit in 30 minutes every day, meditating five or 10 minutes each day is better than 30 minutes once or twice a week. Use a timer when meditating so you don’t have to keep looking at a clock. When you set your timer, remember to leave yourself a little extra time to ease out of the meditative state. You probably have a timer on your phone that allows you to select a soothing sound to let you know when it is time to draw your meditation session to a close.
Take your time bringing yourself out of a meditative state. Before jumping up and heading back into your life, let yourself gradually become aware of and engage in your surroundings. Open your eyes slowly, sit in the stillness for a moment, and then gently move your body a little bit until you feel ready to reengage in life.
Most people meditate with their eyes shut. Keeping your eyes open during meditation can be distracting because vision can stimulate the brain. It is easier to focus your attention inward and relax more completely with your eyes shut. But, if you do decide to keep your eyes open, try to look at one spot and soften your gaze so you are not really focusing in on anything.
You want your hands to feel relaxed and comfortable. It is also important to keep them still and to refrain from fidgeting. Many people simply lay their hands down on their laps or thighs. Some people like to form a circle with the thumb and a finger.
It is best to sit with good posture and your back straight. Although it may not sound like the most comfortable position to be in, sitting with good posture makes it easier to concentrate on your breath. Once you are settled in comfortably, try not to adjust your position unless it becomes painful. Moving your body around can stimulate your brain to start sending out thoughts. Some people like to sit cross-legged while they meditate. Sitting with you head pointed slightly downward can help open up your chest to support breathing.
Lots of folks meditate. Even some who don’t know they are meditating. If you have ever sat still, doing nothing, and thinking about nothing… well then, you’ve meditated!
Meditation is about letting go of outside stimuli and freeing a cluttered mind so you can find comfort and relaxation within your own body. It is a fairly uncomplicated process with lots of benefits. However, the process can become complicated if you overthink it or try too hard.
The process of meditating truly is quite simple. It involves nothing more than sitting still while focusing your conscious awareness on your breathing as you breathe in and out in a natural, effortless way. That’s really all there is to it.
While you sit quietly and breathe in and out naturally and evenly, simply empty your mind of thoughts and concentrate all your attention on the process and sensations of breathing. Focus on your breath as it enters and leaves your nose… the feeling under your nose as you breathe in and out… your lungs as they inflate and deflate… and the sounds you make as you breathe, etc. Do not analyze your breathing, merely observe and experience it.
When your mind shifts away from your breathing or random thoughts pop into your head (and they definitely will), gently bring your attention back to your breathing. You don’t have to fight with your thoughts and you should not feel guilty or wrong if you start thinking about something. Once you realize your attention has wandered, just refocus on your breath again. If a thought is important, you will remember it later.
If you are new to meditating, you probably have many questions about how to begin. Here are some of those questions with answers and tips provided by people who have incorporated meditation into their daily lives. These individuals are not meditation experts, but they are folks who enjoy meditating and find the practice beneficial. Some of the benefits are listed below at right.
Meditate in a quiet, peaceful spot with no distractions. Make it a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed but not so tranquil and comfy that you could fall asleep easily. Some people prefer to meditate indoors where it is easier to control distractions, but others prefer to meditate outdoors in the fresh air. Wherever you choose to meditate, remember to silence the tones on your phone so you won’t hear calls and texts. Keep the sound of phone's alarm on if you are using it too time your meditation session. You will want to be able to hear when it signals the time to stop meditating.
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In order to reap the benefits of meditating, it is necessary to make it part of your daily life. Once meditation becomes part of your usual daily routine, it will feel normal and natural and you won’t want to miss even one session. Find a quiet time of day when meditation fits easily into your schedule. Many people prefer to meditate early in the morning or before going to bed at night.