Recently, a friend introduced me to meditation. He suggested that it would be helpful, but I was very skeptical. After a couple days of hearing about the benefits, I decided to give it a try. I figured the only thing I had to lose was a few minutes of my time. I downloaded the Simple Habit app and found a guided meditation for stress. After a ten minute meditation I felt relaxed and positive. I was able to use the technique from the meditation later in the day to relieve my stress. I realized I had so many misconceptions about what meditation was and those misconceptions kept me from trying something that has helped so many people. Throughout this post I will be talking about what meditation is, how to meditate, and why it is helpful. I hope this post helps you as much as it helped me.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a simple practice that focuses on improving awareness, attention, and compassion. One form of meditation is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness focuses on paying attention in an intentional way to develop awareness. It involves on different points in the body like breath, sounds, sensations, and visual objects. Being aware of different points of your body can help you pay more attention to your thoughts and see them without judgment. Meditation is about stepping outside your mind and seeing your emotions as an outside observer.
How to Meditate.
I like to use guided meditation apps like Calm, Simple Habit, or Headspace. They are a great place to start meditating. Guided meditation helps bring the thoughts in your head to a specific focus. It guides you through visualizations to help focus your mind for a specific purpose. There are stress reduction meditations, meditations for anxiety, and many more different types. A lot of guided meditations offer multi day programs that slowly work towards a goal.
You can also do meditation on your own. Start by sitting in a quiet space with no distractions. Next, find a comfortable position where you can let go of the tension in your body. Next, find a breathing rhythm and focus only on breathing in and out. It is also helpful to focus on each part of your body individually. Focus on each sensation felt by each part of your body. Focus on your breathing or the sensations of your body until your mind begins to wander. Acknowledge the thoughts that are distracting you then go back to focusing on your breathing and the sensations of your body. A wandering mind is a necessary part of the process of meditation. Meditation is also about training your mind to focus by turning your thoughts back to the breathing and sensations.
Benefits of Meditation.
There’s no doubt that if you put in the work with meditation you will see the benefits, but a lot of the evidence is study based. Even so, many healthcare professionals still strongly recommend meditation for a variety of reasons. One benefit is improved sleep quality. Meditation is believed to address the issues affecting us during the day which in turn improves our ability to fall asleep. Another benefit of meditation is decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms. Meditation gives you techniques to help decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety as they arise. Another benefit of meditation is increased brain function. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can have an affect on the gray matter in the brain. The changes in the brain’s makeup can in turn improve cognitive functions like learning and emotional functions.
In conclusion…Meditation is a great way to improve your mental health. If you put in the work and try meditating a little bit each day I promise you will see an impact.