Taking a few minutes a day to meditate has been proven to have a profound impact on your mind and body. According to research done by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), 47 studies were found with over 3500 participants that showed meditation to have a positive impact on anxiety, depression and pain. Additionally, a Harvard University affiliated team conducted research which ran MRIs on the brains of participants and discovered the gray matter had changed. This may suggest that the good feelings one gets from meditation directly correlates with actual physical changes taking place in the brain. Pretty powerful and amazing stuff. I will be sharing more about the benefits of meditation in a future post…be on the lookout!
Now that you know a bit about the science behind meditation, let’s get down to the how with SSS (Six Simple Steps)! First of all, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. You can sit anywhere…a chair, the floor, or even in your car. I have been known to meditate in my car when crunched for time…better than nothing as they say. It’s best not to lie down as you may fall asleep but if you’re most comfortable laying, then do it. There are no hard and fast rules.
I like to use a timer to keep track of the time so that I don’t have to stop to check the clock. For those just starting out, 2-5 minutes is a good place to begin. I use Medigong as my timer and like that you can change the gong chime at the end to one or three chimes. You can also set a preferred amount of time, dim the wallpaper, as well as set an interval timer and a preparation timer. It’s free in the Google Play store.
Some prefer to meditate while listening to music or sounds of nature. If you prefer not to meditate in silence, check out Calm.com or download the app available in the Google Play store as well as the App Store. They offer 2-20 minute meditations that can be guided or not. You can choose the background sound or music as well as a time frame. The only drawback is that there is no timer to alert you when time is up. The app has 3 options for background sounds and you must listen to the guided instructions to start. It might be helpful for those who are intimidated by the notion of meditating to at least give the instructions a listen.
Now it’s time for the second step. Close your eyes and take a couple of deep, slow cleansing breaths. Place your hands in your lap facing either up or down. Thirdly, focus on the breath going in and out of your nose, traveling throughout your body, nourishing it. Don’t change it in any way. Just observe it.
Moving on to the fourth step, you can continue to focus on your breath taking care to ensure the breaths are flowing in and out naturally. Or you can choose a mantra to turn your attention to such as So Hum which means “I Am” in Sanskrit or Sat Chit Ananda (one of my favorites) which means “Truth Consciousness Bliss”.
As you reach the fifth step, know that thoughts are still going to pop into your mind. That is okay and totally natural. Just let them flow in and out of your awareness like a feather on the breeze and return your attention to the breath or mantra. And lastly, when your time is up, take a final deep cleansing breath, open your eyes and face the day with a sense of peace, calm and awareness.
Here are a couple more apps that you might find useful. Buddhist Meditation which has a mindful quote to focus your attention on. The duration of the meditation increases based on your meditation frequency. And Headspace which offers 10 free meditations before you have to pay. This is the only app that requires you to set up an account via Facebook or email.
I would LOVE to know if these tips helped you on your meditation journey and/or if you have any thoughts to share! Communication is the key to happiness along with a regular meditation practice, of course! Namaste 🙂
* This post is dedicated to my hardworking oldest son, Forrest, who is juggling a very full academic, social, and entrepreneurial plate while at Virginia Tech. And my sweet friend, Kelly, who is new to this meditating thing but is willing to try it. Kudos and love to both of you…as well as anyone else open enough to give it a go! *
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