Why You Should Be Meditating & How On Earth To Get Started
Although you would never be able to tell it from that Twitter handle of his, it is official — the Donald is the new POTUS. And let’s just put it out there, I think that fact is making us all just a wee bit tense. Not to worry though, I got this. To help you (and by you, I mean me) get through the day (and by day, I mean next four years) with a little less anxiety, a little less stress, and a little less judgment, I thought I’d write a little bit about meditation.
While the goal of mediation is not actually to gain anything, I know the selfish jerk in us all wants to know, “What’s in it for me?”
Well, the benefits of mediation are actually kind of endless. Mediation can promote relaxation, and help us deal with stress, anxiety, irritability and overthinking. It can also help us develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. Might be helpful in the next coming weeks. Just sayin’.
Meditation has some physical benefits, too — like lower blood pressure, improved blood circulation, lower heart rate, less perspiration and lower blood cortisol levels.
Now, when many of you first think of meditation, the image of a chanting yogi in lotus position near a calming water feature may come to mind. “Not for me,” you say.
But let me assure you, there are many, many different meditation techniques and practices that can be done just about anywhere, and that don’t involve injuring yourself trying to fold yourself into a pretzel.
In concentration meditation, the focus is on a single point — whether it be following your breath, repeating a mantra or staring at a specific image/object. Any time you notice your mind wandering, refocus your awareness back to your chosen focal point.
Mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe your thoughts as they drift through the mind — not getting involved in those thoughts, but rather being aware, observing patterns, become more mindful of the human tendency to judge.
During walking meditation, the focus is on the feeling of your body, what movements your body is making, the feeling of your breath, the space around you (what can you see/hear, how does the air feel on your skin, etc.).
Tai chi, or meditation in motion, involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.
Qigong involves a posture (whether moving or stationary), breathing techniques, and mental focus.
And the Buddhists have seven practices focused on the cultivation of compassion.
But, regardless of which method you chose, one of the biggest principles of meditation is to be present and aware. Here are some tips to get going:
- Do meditation your own way. Don’t worry about the how, just start. There are tons of how-to’s on the interwebs and, get this, there’s also an app for that.
- Start small. You can start meditating for just 2 minutes and gradually increase. No matter how long you do it, you’re still going to reap the benefits.
- Choose a convenient time. Pick a time in the day that you will be able to commit to, whether that’s first thing in the morning, right before bed or on your lunch break.
- Find a comfortable position. Like I said, you don’t have to sit in lotus position, all you need is a position that allows you to be relaxed, comfortable, steady and not distracted.
- Don’t be in a rush to finish. Ease out of your mediation and give yourself a little bit of time to reflect.