Nadja is a nurse and writer from Texas dedicated to educating the public about mental and physical health.
Introduction to Meditation
Meditation is such a powerful tool that can be used to improve many aspects of an individual's life, yet so few people practice it. There are many reasons people choose not to meditate including feeling like they don't have the time, not knowing how, not being able to sit still long enough, not knowing enough about it to be interested, and simply not believing that it has any benefits.
There is a saying "If you don't have time to meditate, you need to meditate longer". Time is objective - meaning time is however you perceive it. If you believe that you never have enough time in a day, you will continue to not have enough time. If you believe you have more than enough time to complete all your tasks and still have free time to do what you please, then you will have more of that. There is another saying that states "you have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyoncé" (or whoever you admire). She is able to make time in her day to do everything that she does and so can you.
It only takes 15-20 minutes of meditation per day to begin noticing the positive effects. I noticed changes in my mood and ability to focus at work after only 3 days of consistent meditation. I used to believe that I didn't have the time to spare until I stopped making excuses and stopped wasting time on unfulfilling things i.e.: Social networks, mindless games, gossip sites, etc...
Step-by-step tips for meditation
The following are tips to help you begin your meditation journey and help your current practice be more successful and positive.
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- The first step to meditating is to choose a comfortable and safe place. This can be your bed, a chair, the couch, your yoga mat, even the floor. Wherever you can be comfortable and undisturbed for 15-20 minutes.
- Be sure that it is an area free of distractions and that the temperature is right for you. You can either sit up or lie down - it does not matter as long as you are comfortable. I like to cover myself with a blanket and either sit against a wall or lie down with my head on a pillow.
- Begin by taking 3-5 deep, slow breaths. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth with your lips pursed like you are blowing out a candle.
- Once you are settled and feeling relaxed, begin to focus on sometime that does not take a lot of brain power such as the ticking of a clock, the sound of your breath, or the music playing in the background. It is a good idea to meditate with headphones in and soft, relaxing music playing to prevent you from being distracted from outside noises.
- Many people think the goal of meditation is to "turn off your thoughts" and focus on nothing, but in reality that is impossible to do. You simply cannot stop thinking. The goal of meditation is to slow your thoughts, not stop them. Welcome thoughts as they come to you during your practice, but do not linger on them. When a thought crosses your mind, acknowledge it and send it on it's way. It will likely be difficult at first and you may feel fidgety and restless during your initial practices. It took me about 7 days of 15 minute sessions until I was less restless. Be gentle with yourself and be excited that each session you are getting better and better. Do not get discouraged with a few bad sessions, just acknowledge it, think of how you can improve, and move on.
- Set an alarm so that you are not having to check the clock during your practice. This will allow you to focus more fully for the time you have carved out.
- It may help at first to follow along with guided meditations. YouTube has thousands of free guided mediations and it is a great way to learn how to practice and teach your mind to slow down for a while. I linked one of my favorite guided meditations below. It was created by The Honest Guys who have many good quality guided mediations uploaded to their channel, I suggest you check them out and give the mediation a go.
- If you choose to practice visualization while meditating you have endless options. You can literally visualize anything you want, this is where your imagination can really take over. My favorite is to imagine a bright white light above me entering into the crown of my head. I visualize the light slowly expanding in my body starting from my head down to my face, neck, shoulders, chest, arms, hands, torso, pelvis, legs, and feet. Once I get to my hands and feet I imagine the light shooting out through my fingers and toes. Then I picture the light expanding into the room, the house, the city, the continent, the earth, and then into space.
- When your meditation practice is over, notice how you feel. Do you feel relaxed, lighter, sleepy? Or perhaps you feel frustrated, heavy or agitated. You may feel this way if you are being hard on yourself about having trouble focusing or getting distracted. But keep in mind that your practice will just get better and better as long as you keep it up. It is normal to have sessions where you simply cannot concentrate. Be gentle and love yourself through it! When you are ready, get up and go about your day feeling lighter, focused, and more positive.
One of my favorite guided meditations.
The psychological and physiological benefits meditation has been proven to provide.
Now for the best part! The following are proven facts about the benefits of regular meditation.
- Reduced stress.
- Improved focus and clarity.
- Increased self awareness.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Increased sense of intuition.
- Improved mood.
- Help with regulating mood disorders and anxiety disorders.
- Deeper and more restful sleep.
- An 8 week 2011 Harvard study proved that daily meditation increases gray-matter concentration in the brain which is known to be important for learning, memory, self awareness, and compassion.
Meditation is one of the easiest, quickest, and most effective ways to improve all aspects of your life. Practice consistently for 30 days and witness the amazing changes that start appearing in your life! I hope this article provides some insight and assistance in improving your meditation practice. I would love to hear any other tips and facts you have that I may have left out or not been aware of :)
© 2017 Nadja Frazier