Updated: Dec 21, 2019
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In today's world, and especially during this time of year, it's important to have a healthy way to de-stress. Nicotine and alcohol can help relieve stress temporarily, but if you use them too much, they're unhealthy. One of the best healthy stress-busting techniques I've discovered is meditation. It helps me relax and focus so I can concentrate on what I'm doing. In this post, I'll discuss the benefits of meditation, how to get started, how to meditate anytime, anywhere, and props you can use to improve your practice once you've started.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation reduces stress. Stress reduction is the main reason people try meditation.
Control anxiety. Stress can produce anxiety - because meditation reduces stress, it also helps reduce anxiety.
Improves emotional health by reducing the number of cytokines in the body.
Increases self-awareness - some types of meditation help you become more aware of yourself and the people around you.
Increases attention span - other types of meditation help you increase your attention span, which is great for people who get bored easily.
One type of meditation, kirtan kriya, may help reduce age-related memory loss.
It can help generate kindness - Another type of meditation, lovingkindness meditation, can help increase positive feelings toward yourself and others.
It may help people fight addictions - The mental discipline that meditation develops may help people break dependencies to addictive substances by increasing self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors.
Improves sleep - Studies have shown that people who practice mindfulness meditation fall asleep sooner and sleep longer compared to those who don't meditate.
Can help control pain - Pain awareness is connected to your state of mind, which can be worse in stressful situations. People who meditate regularly have increased activity in the areas of the brain that control pain
How to Get Started
Sit or lie down comfortably. You may want to find a chair or cushion you can sit on.
Close your eyes. If you're lying down, you might want to use an eye mask or eye pillow.
Breathe naturally - don't try to control your breath.
Focus your attention on the breathing and how your body moves when you breathe. Notice how your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly move. Don't try to control the pace or intensity of your breathing, just focus your attention on it. If your mind wanders, focus your attention back on your breathing.
When you start meditating, start with two to three-minute sessions, then gradually increase the length.
Steps for Meditating Anytime, Anywhere
Do it your own way. You don't have to sit when you're meditating, or even be still. If you want to get out and walk while you meditate, you could do a walking meditation. When doing a walking meditation pay attention to the physical sensations, the flow of your breath, how the air, wind, and gravity feel on your body, and what you hear and see.
Have a purpose for your meditation. Although it may seem passive, meditation is a very active process. Focusing your attention on one point is hard; it helps the process if you're engaged with what you're doing. You don't need to have a big objective; even a simple intention for the meditation such as "I want to relax on my vacation," can be helpful.
Be aware of your attention. Your mind can be your biggest block to meditation. However, you can control your mind. If you notice yourself getting caught up in other thoughts bring your attention back to the breath. This does get easier with practice.
Remember, meditation is a process. As you keep practicing your mind will drift less, and you'll be able to meditate anytime, anywhere, no matter what circumstances you're in or how noisy the environment is.
Tools to Help Establish a Meditation Habit
An Amazon Echo device - The Amazon Alexa app has many meditation skills you can use to meditate whether you're at home or out of the house; with the Amazon Echo device and Alexa app, you can use these skills to meditate anytime, anywhere.
A meditation cushion or chair - If you choose to sit on the floor, meditation cushions or chairs can help make your meditation position more comfortable.
A meditation app - There are several meditation apps available that contain guided meditations and timers that help you meditate no matter where you are - as long as you have service, you should be able to use them.
Tips to stick with meditation
Make it easy to meditate no matter where you are. All you really need to do to meditate properly is to focus on your breathing and the way your body feels in the position you're in whether you're sitting, standing, kneeling, etc. If you choose to use guided meditations through the Alexa app or on your phone, you can listen to those anywhere you have cell phone service.
Keep track of your meditation practice. You can keep a meditation journal by simply writing details about each meditation session in a blank book. You could also purchase a specific meditation journal. You could also simply keep track of the number of days you meditate and challenge yourself not to break the chain.
Try to meditate at the same time every day. You can connect it with a specific activity such as brushing your teeth or do it when you wake up in the morning. No matter when you choose to do it, make sure you do it at that time every day.
Meditate in a group. If you don't feel comfortable meditating alone, find a meditation partner or group you can meet with. This helps create accountability
Don't restrict yourself to meditating in a sitting or standing position. You can meditate when doing relaxing everyday activities, such as washing the dishes, or even during commercial breaks when you're watching TV.
Don't judge yourself. The mind tends to wander when people first start meditating. If this happens, don't judge yourself, just return to concentrating on your breathing.
Find a meditation coach or mentor. If you know someone who meditates, see if they'll be your meditation coach or mentor, or look for one on the web.
Go on meditation retreats. If you have the time to go on a meditation retreat, even for a few days, it can help you get more serious about practicing meditation regularly.
This is what you need to know about the benefits of meditation, how to establish a meditation habit, and how to meditate anytime, anywhere. If you follow these tips, you'll likely start seeing results from your practice quickly.
If you're actively meditating and want to share your experiences, please comment below. Namaste!