Meditation has played a significant role in Eastern thought, philosophy and even medicine for thousands of years. The concept of meditation has been with the Western world for a very long time as well, but it's just now beginning to become accepted into our culture.
What is meditation?
Many people seem to be under the impression meditation requires some mystical or religious focus, but this isn't the case. Essentially, it’s nothing more than a relaxation and centering technique which can help you improve your overall health and reduce stress. Before you can enjoy those benefits, you first need to know the basics of how to actually meditate.
How do I meditate?
Just like swimming or yoga, mediation is a skill that needs to be practiced regularly for success. It will take time to learn how to "turn off your mind," but following these steps will get you there:
Step One: Find the right location. Your location matters a great deal, particularly in the beginning. Choose a secluded place where you won’t experience interruptions or outside noises for at least 15 minutes.
Step Two: Focus on sitting down. You probably assume you’ll have to use the lotus position (folded crossed legs), but this isn't necessarily true. Find a sitting position in which you’re comfortably sitting without slouching.
Step Three: Concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose slowly and deeply. Exhale through your mouth just as slowly and fully. Slowly deepen your breathing. It's important not to force your breathing, as this can lead to a feeling of tension.
Step Four: When you have your breathing deep and slow, start focusing on your awareness. The best way to do this is to focus on the act of breathing itself. While focusing on your breathing, exclude your other thoughts. This is one of the more difficult phases of meditation, particularly for beginners. When you find your thoughts starting to wander to the stress of the day, what you’ll have for dinner or you're weekend plans; refocus on your breathing. It can take several tries to get your concentration to a single-point focus. We spend so much of our time multitasking and thinking about multiple things making it almost unnatural to obtain singularity. However, it will come with practice.
Step Five: Ending the session correctly is just as important as starting it off right. When it’s time to end (after 10 or 15 minutes of conscious breathing), open your eyes. Now stand up slowly and stretch your body. You’ll feel more relaxed, alert and at peace.
Adding Meditation to Your Lifestyle
Start with your basic 10 or 15-minute meditation intervals and gradually extend them as your ability to focus your concentration increases. Ideally, you’ll have one or two short sessions per day with the ability to increase their duration as your skill improves.
Whether you’re considering meditation for the stress relief and health benefits offered or you want to awaken your higher mind, starting with the basics of meditation can help you reach your goals.
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