By: Tatiana Britton
If you read my previous blog article “Making Mindfulness a Daily Habit”, you read that there are physical health benefits to mindful practices. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and engaged in whatever it is that you are doing or experiencing in that exact moment. It’s not worrying about the future or agonizing over the past, it is being FULLY aware of the PRESENT moment. Within that past blog article, I touched base slightly regarding how you begin to incorporate mindful techniques into your daily routine, but I wanted to delve a little deeper into a commonly practice mindful technique known as meditation.
Meditation is a practice of the mind that has been around for thousands of years. This practice improves mental, physical and spiritual health, however today we will mainly cover the mental benefits it reaps, alongside how you can begin to incorporate it into your daily routine. Regular practice of meditation can help with increasing mindfulness, mental control, clarity and calmness. By increasing control of the mind, you can help better respond to life situations and see the world with a new pair of eyes. This can flow over into both your personal and your work life. By practicing meditation, empathy and compassion are gained which can improve relationships with peers, significant others and family members. Learning to be in the present moment, increases focus when presented with a work task that must be completed. Studies also show that meditation results in lower cortisol levels which can lead to less stress and lower risk of depression and anxiety. Just adding this small step in your day can reap an abundance of benefits on the body. If you’re not meditating now, you’re truly missing out on a lot. Good news is, it’s not too late to start!
If you’re like most people, or you have googled “meditation”, you assume meditating must entail crossing your legs, humming and holding your fingers together above your knees. However, meditation is not required to look any specific way and often does not look like this incorrectly painted image. Meditation can be done basically anywhere, but it does take patience and practice because it is not an easy task to do at first. So how do you start?
-Find a time that your head is most clear. For a lot of people this is the morning time; when your head is almost emptied, and you have not had the days trials to send you down a train of thought.
-Designate a spot that is clean, comfortable and where you most at ease. Trying to meditate in your bed, initially, is not the best idea. This leaves room for temptation to take a nap instead. Also, picking a cluttered area may distract you to then clean instead and/or cause your mind to feel cluttered and mess with you trying to clear your brain. Create a meditation zone, where you sit and only meditate in. Keep it clean, quiet and comfortable and you will find yourself enjoying this space as your practice goes on.
-Simply start with 1 minute. That’s it! Try and increase your time by one minute each week. So that come your second week, you are at two minutes, your third week you are at three minutes, etc.
-Now that you have an appropriate time of day, spot and length of time you can begin to perform the act of meditation. Count your breaths when you inhale (1,2,3,4) and when you exhale (1,2,3,4,5). Count them in your head, not aloud. Try to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, to expel all negativity you may have held up inside. Try to keep this breathing as natural as possible, so that you can relax through these breaths and not stress yourself out more trying to just breathe!
-Your mind will wander. It’s just part of having a human brain! Guess what? That’s okay! Get comfortable with acknowledging when your mind begins to wander and re-center your thoughts back to your breaths.
Now that you know some basic benefits of adding meditation to your daily routine and have the tools to begin implementing the practice, why not start today? It’s never the right or wrong time to meditate. The only wrong move there could possibly be, would be not even trying it at all!