Meditation 101: Why You Should Try It

Meditation

"Meditation is for Buddhists and hippies."

That’s what Rodney thought. He’s a busy guy, with a banking job and three  kids. His life is loud, chaotic, fast paced and full of stress. He felt  it, too. From his tired feet to his ever-quicker temper, the usual  outlets (exercise, nights out with his wife or friends, etc.) weren’t  working.

Then, he stumbled upon an article just like the one you’re reading now. Like  this one, it said that meditation is something you (and Rodney) ought to consider, and no, you don’t have to subscribe to any religion, or burn any bras, to enjoy the benefits  of it.

What Meditation Does

Specifically, recent research has shown that meditation has a measurable effect on your brain, even when you’re not actively meditating. Researchers at Harvard  discovered that a sustained meditation program activates areas of the  brain that help fight off disease, improve blood pressure, and other  great health benefits. Yes, it’s all in your head, but no, it’s not  hocus pocus at all.  

What Meditation Helps

Basically, if stress causes it or hurts it, meditation can help heal it. Anxiety,  immunity levels, hypertension, depression, even chronic pain. It can  also help with metabolism, attention span and memory, among others.

How You Can Meditate (If You Haven't Before)

1. Carve out the time. As little as five minutes will work, but try to go for at least 15.

2. Find a quiet spot. For Rodney, and those at work, it might be a local park,  even a parked car. And mute your phone!

3. Sit in a comfortable (but not too comfortable, or saggy) position. The  typical position (also known as the Lotus) is popular because it’s  comfortable yet not the type of position one will fall asleep in.

4. Focus on breathing, taking deep breaths in and long exhales out. Meditation  works best with a clear mind, but that’s a hard thing to accomplish. As  you practice meditating (yes, it takes some practice), you’ll get better at it. There are a lot of great books and videos you can get at your  local library that will help.

5. Chanting helps. Yeah, it may feel a bit odd to chant “ommm” but it helps you  focus on your body and relaxing.

6. As you breathe in and out, be aware of the relaxing effect on your body.  Specifically, think about how the tension is being released in your neck with each exhale, then move to your shoulders, your legs, your feet,  and so on.

7. Keep at it! Meditation regimens work best when done on a daily basis. Find  15 minutes to an hour each day to meditate - maybe early in the morning, maybe later in the evening when the house is quiet and the kids are  asleep - and you’ll be amazed at the results.

It worked for Rodney, who may not tell his friends about his “hippie”  secret, but everyone around him notices the new pep in his step.

One final tip: Meditation can be as simple as sitting quietly and focusing  your mind on positive things, things that make you happy. Research shows that just 15 minutes of quiet reflection on the positive things in your life, once a day for even just a week, can have a positive chemical  effect on your brain.

What tips do you have for someone thinking of trying out meditation? Let us  know in the comments!

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