Life in the 21st Century can be quite hectic, especially with the global events of 2020 taking a toll on our physical and mental health. Many of us struggle with anxiety and stress throughout our daily lives, whether we wish to acknowledge this or not.
It can seem preferable to ignore stress by focusing on the rituals of our daily routine. Unfortunately, ignoring stress and anxiety is akin to kicking a tin can down the road. It may remove the immediate obstacle, but eventually you’re going to come across it again.
Managing stress and anxiety is a more impactful way to live, and the key to a hitherto-untapped sense of inner peace and serenity. That’s easier said than done. Meditation will help, however. This guide will teach you how to practice this ancient artform.
Meditation is a form of mindfulness – living in the moment – that helps us to relax and clear our minds. There are many reasons why people practice meditation. These include:
- Meditation clears the mind of everyday worries, reducing stress and anxiety
- Meditation improves focus and mental clarity, leading to greater performance in the workplace or education
- Meditation rewires the brain to accept and welcome happiness
- Meditation lowers blood pressure and promotes superior, restful sleep, thus improving physical health
Above all, meditation offers the opportunity to live with a little less regret in your life. By balancing your mind, body and spirit, you are less likely to react emotionally to unexpected or unwelcome events. By embracing the spirit of meditation, you can maintain a calm resolve in the face of adversity – and keep a clear head when managing any problem may arise.
How to Meditate
Now that we have established that mediation is worthwhile, it’s time to practice the artform.
Practice is the key word here. Everybody takes to meditation at a different pace, so do not lose heart of your struggle at first. Nobody achieves enlightenment upon their first meditation! After all, even the Dalai Lama needs to practice meditation.
You may wonder why, given that he is presumably the ultimate authority on the subject. Well, Tom Brady has shown time and again that he knows how to throw a football – but we’re willing to bet that he still practices every day to keep his skills set sharp. The same applies to mediation.
Let’s take a look at how you can start meditating, bringing a little welcome serenity into your life.
The first step to effective meditation is finding the right location. You need a room where you will not be disturbed for a while. Find somewhere that your spouse, children or pets will not interrupt you.
This could be anywhere in your home, as long as it’s quiet and you are comfortable. A spare bedroom is probably ideal, as you are less likely to be distracted by daily chores while you are trying to focus your mind.
Once you have chosen your location, dim the lights, close the door, draw the curtains and blinds are prepare yourself to relax.
Forget any unhelpful stereotypes about meditation. You do not need to shave your head and donate your clothing to Goodwill, exchanging your everyday outfits for orange robes. All you need is somewhere comfortable to sit, a quiet area, time to yourself and a willingness to embrace calm.
However, there are certain apparatus that can assist. You may wish to consider the following items to aid your meditation experience.
- A meditation cushion, used exclusively for this purpose
- Relaxing music to help soothe your soul and distract you from worldly concerns
- Scented candles to promote relaxation of the muscles and mind. Lavender, chamomile, bergamot and geranium are most effective
- A speaker or set of noise-cancelling headphones to play guided meditations aloud
These are all optional. Meditation can involve as much or as little apparatus as you deem necessary. What matters most is that you are prepared to spend the time required practicing this artform.
Once you’re ready to start meditating, follow this 4-step process.
- Assume a comfortable position and relax. This could be seated – either in a favored chair on the ground – or lying down. The important thing is that you feel completely relaxed
- Stay still and close your eyes for a few moments. Let your mind wander if necessary. Do not force yourself to immediately empty your head of all thoughts. Allow thoughts to drift through your mind as you adjust to your physical position
- Focus on your breath. Acknowledge how you breathe. In through the mouth and out through the nose? Inhaling through the nostrils and exhaling through the mouth? It doesn’t matter how you breathe. Just focus on the technique
- Keep focusing on your breath. Try to reduce your breathing to between six and ten inhale-exhale cycles per minute. Keep focusing on your breath. That’s all that matters right now. Thoughts, worries or concerns can wait until later. This is your time
Done? Great. You just meditated. Even if you only practiced for two minutes, you have taken your first step into a new world.
Remember, meditation is not a skill that is mastered overnight. If you practice each and every day, however, you will quickly start to improve your technique.
You’ll notice that you drift into a deeper meditative state every time, potentially spending longer and longer in position without realizing. What’s more, you will reap the benefits. Regular meditation will enrich your life in mind, body and spirit.