“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” – Zen proverb
Understanding the benefits of meditation, I continue to dabble in it at home as I try to establish the practice as a part of my daily routine. I’ve participated in workshops, read up about different methods and subscribed to various guided meditation apps. Being fully aware of the positive impact a consistent meditation practice will have and craving the stillness it offers, I’m constantly trying to find ways to make meditation a sustainable part of my daily routine.
What is meditation?
There are so many things in life that are beyond our control. Traffic, the weather, other people’s bad behavior, just to name a few. However, one thing we can have complete control over is how we respond in these situations. Meditation teaches us to acknowledge how we are feeling, understand why we are feeling that way and become aware of the sensations in our body, leaving room for us to shift our focus and attention in a more positive direction. It enables us to focus on the present moment rather than dwell on the unchangeable past or undetermined future.
Benefits of meditation
Studies have shown meditation can do everything from lowering your blood pressure to boosting your immune system, to literally rewiring key parts of your brain for happiness.
Here are a few more benefits:
- Reduces stress
- Encourages a sense of calmness
- Improves concentration
- Promotes a healthy lifestyle
- Increases self awareness
- Increases happiness
- Increases acceptance
- Leaves one feeling more in control of their emotions
How to meditate?
Meditation is simple, (not easy, but simple). Consistency is definitely key! Below are some tips and a basic technique that you can use to start with.
It feels really good to start the day off with a moment of mindfulness and visualising what you want the day to look like is a great way to send out positive vibes. Alternatively, finishing the day with a mindful moment is a lovely way to reflect on the day gone by and sets the stage for a good night’s rest.
- Commit to an amount of time to start with. 5 minutes is perfect to start with as you start developing your practice. As you improve, you will be able to increase the amount of time
- Pick a general time of day and try, as much as possible, to stick to it, like after you wake up, after your first cup of coffee or before you go to sleep. This is a really important step in making meditation a daily practice
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. Make sure you are sitting in a comfortable position so that you don’t need to fidget and adjust positions during your meditation
- Close your eyes and start focusing on your breath. As you breathe in, follow your breath in through your nostrils, then into your throat, then into your lungs and belly. As you breathe out, follow your breath back out. It helps to count your breaths. Count 1 as you breathe in, 2 as you breathe out, 3 as you breathe in, 4 as you breathe out. When you get to 10, start over. If you lose track, don’t worry, just start over
- If you find your mind wandering (and you will), just acknowledge that it has wandered, then gently bring it back to your breath. Repeat this process whenever you find your mind has wandered. With time, your ability to still your mind will improve.
Try exploring guided meditation programs like Headspace, Calm and Insight timer. These are very helpful when you’re starting out and offer support and advice on how to continue and improve your practice. I love guided meditations so these are a great tool to have.
My best advice
- Take advantage of the many online resources available
- Plan when you are going to meditate the following day and make it happen
- Don’t overthink it! Taking a couple of deep breaths during the day and becoming aware of how you are feeling in that moment is sometimes all you need to bring you back to what’s really important to you