“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear”– Rumi
When you hear the word ‘meditation’, what ideas or thoughts first come to mind? Is it that it’s difficult? That it takes too long? Maybe that it’s even inaccessible and for the ultra-disciplined? Well, meditation can be uncomplicated, quick, accessible, and can be done by anyone, regardless of their level of experience or inexperience.
What is meditation? Meditation is a type of practice that is about training in awareness by focusing or clearing your mind using a blend of mental and physical techniques. You’re not trying to stop your mind from thinking thoughts. It’s about learning to observe them as best as you can without judgment.
Why meditate? There are many scientifically proven reasons to start meditating today: it is an effortless way to help reduce anxiety, depression and pain. It can also help to manage stress and calm the mind. Simply put, it is a great tool that can be incorporated into your lifestyle to benefit your emotional and physical well-being and overall health.
Where to start? Good question. You can begin today! Taking even two to five minutes out of your day to sit in a quiet place, close your eyes (or lower your gaze, if that feels more comfortable for you), and just breathe deeply. These actions can help make a noticeable difference in your mental state and calmness while bringing your focus into the present moment, which can aid in better handling the tasks before you. Breathing deeply into your belly (or diaphragmatic breathing), can send signals to your brain to calm down and relax. You may wish to meditate to music, which can be helpful in setting a calming environment; however, try to choose instrumental, lyric-free tunes so that you are not distracted. No music? No problem. Focus on your breathing.
Where can I meditate? It is best to find a quiet place, where you will not be disturbed – if you are at home, the bathroom or bedroom may be ideal. For multi-person households, just don’t forget to close the door!
How should I sit, and do I need fancy equipment and tools? Sit any way that feels comfortable for you, so that your muscles can relax – in a chair or on the couch or even on the floor. It’s best to avoid lying down, if possible (unless it is too painful to sit up) as it may lead to falling asleep. There are many products out on the market today designed for yoga and meditation: meditation cushions, bolsters, yoga blocks and yoga blankets. With that being said, elaborate props are not required for meditation! You can use a bed pillow, a couch cushion, a blanket or a folded-up bedsheet beneath your seat to help avoid any discomfort during your meditation; whatever you have available and on hand works!
What if I don’t have time or a space at home to meditate? That’s totally ok! Taking a walk out in nature, or even when you walk your dog, can be one way to bring meditation into your life; a walking meditation is one of the many forms of meditation and can be done by moving with intention, focusing on your body and your steps and consciously breathing. On public transit – which can be crowded and noisy at best – taking deep breaths and focusing on your breathing can help to bring you into a meditative state. Or you’re at the office, in a meeting, again – focus on your breathing.
Do I need to wear any special clothes? No, not at all. Whatever you are wearing now, is perfect. If it is not too restrictive that it prevents you from keeping focus on your breathing.
If you make the time to invite meditation into your life, even just a few minutes every day, you can build a regular practice that may provide you with positive mental and emotional benefits that you never thought possible.
Here is a sample guided meditation you can try. It is less than 10 minutes long. (Please do not play this meditation while driving.)
- Headspace Meditation App: A 10-day beginner’s course — available in the Headspace app during your free trial.
- Calm: the #1 app for sleep and meditation. Free with in-app purchases
- YouTube.com: offers almost unlimited meditation music, for free.
- Visit your local library for free books on meditation.
Your Brain Health
March 11, 2013
Give your brain a workout On their own, physical activity and cognitive (mental) exercise can each act to keep our bodies and our brains fit. But did you know that challenging your body and your brain together can maximize the brain health benefit?