I’m guessing you’re here because you want to learn about meditation? I thought so! Everywhere you turn at the moment, there are articles about the benefits of meditation and it seems like all the celebs are jumping on the bandwagon too. Well, I’ve been meditating for about a year and I can tell you that what they say is all true! Meditation helped me through an incredibly stressful time in my life last year, it helped me stay calm, feel grounded and let things go. If I hadn’t been meditating throughout that time I don’t know how I’d have coped with my stress levels. I even got up extra early to meditate on the day I moved house… my first house move for 13 years!
Before I started meditating I wanted to learn everything I could about it. What I really wanted to know was, what are the benefits? Why meditate? How do you meditate? To say I did my research is an understatement! So I’ll try to answer those three basic questions now.
What are the benefits of meditation?
For a start off meditation strengthens the brain. Think of it as a workout for your brain. It’s the same concept as excercising to strengthen the muscles in your body only meditation exercises your brain to strengthen it. And when you strengthen the brain, your concentration and memory improve too. Meditation has also been proven to help to reduce stress, anxiety and depresson. Meditation helps us to control our emotions and deal with stressful situations. There’s also the added health benefits of better quality of sleep, lower blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease.
Everyone meditates for different reasons. It’s personal to you so you decide what you want to get out of it. Many come to meditation for the health benefits. Others begin meditation to free themselves from fear, angry or painful thoughts. Or you might want to start meditating to find a sense of calm, clarity and peace. Many meditate to find greater self understanding, improve their intuitive powers or deepen their spiritual awareness. The fact that you’re here reading his means that you have an interest in meditation, so take a few moments to think about what you want to get out of meditation.
How to meditate?
Meditation is incredibly simple. You don’t need to sit for hours on the floor in the lotus position! There really is no wrong way to meditate. I’m going to show you a very simple way to meditate that’s great as an introduction for beginners.
First set a timer for how long you’d like to meditate. You can start at just 5 minutes and add a few more each day until you’re doing 20-30 minutes a day.
Make sure you’re sitting or lying in a comfortable position. I like to sit on my bed with my back supported and my legs crossed. There’s no particular reason for this, I just find it really comfortable.
Gently close your eyes.
Take a really slow deep breath in and completely fill your lungs then slowly let your breath out. Do this 3 times. With each exhale feel your body letting go of stress and tension and feel more and more relaxed.
Breath normally now and keep your awareness on your breathing. Just observe the rising and falling sensation that it creates in your body. Notice where these sensations occur – your belly, your chest, your nose, or anywhere else. Feel the breath as it enters and leaves your nose. Feel the breath filling up and leaving your lungs. Feel your chest and belly rising and falling.
Now you can silently count your breaths: 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 on the next inhale, and so on, up to 10. Then start again at 1. It’s perfectly normal to drift off to thoughts and physical feelings. Don’t worry if you do, just bring your awareness back to your breath and carry on counting. Continue until the timer sounds.
Spend a few moments just sitting and enjoy the feeling of peace and calm.
As I said, this is a very simple meditation for beginners. You might like to try a guided meditation where you listen to someone talking you through the meditation. There are literally millions of guided meditations out there but I like the Calm app and Stop, Breathe & Think app. Davidji is one of my favourite meditation teachers so I would recommend having a look at his website too.
Finally my two top tips for meditation…. COMMITMENT AND CONSISTENCY! It’s essential to commit to the practice of meditation and be consistent. No matter how long you can spare, even if it’s just 5 minutes each day, it’s more important to meditate for a short time each day than just meditate a couple of times a week. Commit to meditating every day and you’ll receive some wonderful benefits – it’s a gift to your soul.