My experience as a meditator and teacher has taught me that most everyone’s mind is in a constant state of flux. That’s like keeping the motor on your car running all night long. You and the car will eventually run out of gas. Quieting your mind needs a top-five placement on your “to-do” list.
So, exactly why is meditation good for you? Meditation causes the pituitary gland in our brain to secrete endorphins that help elevate mood and have a positive effect on the whole body, mind, and spirit. Through the process of meditation, our brain activity is altered to enhance the creative and positive emotions for healing and wellbeing.
Jack Dorsey, whose net worth is $6.8 billion, spent his birthday on a ten-day silent meditation retreat in Myanmar. Many top-successful people from all walks of life are pro-actively using meditation as a mental attention training tool to inject themselves with extra strength, resilience, calm and focus, enabling them to operate at optimum and stay on peak performance.
Here’s “how” learning and practicing meditation is good for you in the “real” world:
By practicing meditation we play an active role in changing our brains for the better, no different from honing our biceps in the gym. Just like we can defeat our default paunch, we can conquer our default distraction, habits, and knee-jerk reactions, shoring up our concentration, focus, strength, and resilience.
Since we are so well aware of the needs of others, from our employers to our families, it is easy to overlook ourselves. Therefore, keep the notion that it is necessary to quiet your mind in the forefront of your mind. In this way, you will be able to go forth and do more.
Block aside a time and place for yourself that enables you to think of nothing, do nothing, and clear your mind. If you have to leave the house, then do so. Let everyone know that you are unreachable.
Sit quietly in your car if you have to, take some cleansing breaths, and think of absolutely nothing. You will see how even recharging for a few minutes during lunch each day will make a difference. Imagine then how productive the art and practice of meditation can be, in many ways.
Health Benefits Of A Consistent Meditation Practice
Studies are beginning to show through trials how meditation is having a positive impact on an individual’s health. It seems as though training your mind could have a direct impact on improving the health of your body.
A healthy heart – Studies are beginning to show that meditation could possibly be one of many contributing ways to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Of course, any way to lower cholesterol and blood pressure is a way to a healthier and happier heart.
Arthritis and other joint diseases – Meditation seems to have a direct impact on the ability to cope better with pain and stiffness associated with disorders involving chronic pain.
Fatigue and sleep disorders – Individuals who practice meditation may get a bonus that transcends further into every category of health. Without a good night’s sleep, fatigue sets the stage for disease and stress. Getting a good night’s sleep will aid in the fighting off and recovery of illness. Those who meditate may find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Warding off stress – It not only gives physical health benefits; meditation is also a wonderful way to ward off stress. Anyone who has ever practiced meditation may very well say that it has helped him or her in dealing with stress. Of course, meditation does not eliminate stress; however, it helps an individual cope better with it. This has a dual benefit – one of a healthy body and the other of a healthy mind.
These are just a few of the reasons why meditation is good for you.
When and How To Meditate For Maximum Benefits
Once you have decided to invest your time and effort into learning how to meditate, it is also important to decide on the when and the how of meditation. Meditation will offer many benefits in the areas of health, concentration, stress, anxiety, and joy.
Setting aside a committed time is a very important component of meditation. Making sure that everyone respects your commitment is also vital to the success of your meditation experience.
Make a Commitment To Meditate
The first and probably the most important aspect of beginning meditation is to commit wholeheartedly from the outset. When you speak of meditation, let everyone know that you are going to meditate as part of your routine. Do not say that you are going to “try” meditation; that will only set you up for an easy escape from the beginning.
Make sure that your words and actions are aligned with the commitment to meditate.
Pick a Time For Meditation
Pick a time of day or night and make a commitment to stick to that time and date. Make sure that you choose a time that will always be convenient for you without any disruptions. If that means locking yourself in your room for a period of time before bedtime, get a sign that says that meditation is in practice and do not disturb.
If you choose to practice meditation in the morning, get up a few minutes earlier every day to begin meditation.
How Often To Meditate In The Beginning
When you first begin to meditate, keep your expectations in check. Start off slowly and increase the time gradually. In this manner, you will not start off on too high a level with too many expectations and then you will not be disappointed. Give it some time.
Start off with 15-minute intervals each morning. Morning is best because your body has not fully awakened to the stressors of the day. Thereafter, when you begin to see the rewards of meditation, you will be able to increase and adjust your schedule accordingly.
The Correct Posture Makes A Difference
Another important aspect of meditation is your posture. A pose that is too rigid or too loose will diminish the meditation experience. Sit with your spine upright, but not too stiff. Sit on the floor on a comfortable blanket or mat.
Make sure that your neck is straight and your shoulders are not slouched, but remember to relax your arms and legs.
It may take some time to adjust your position, but over time, you will realize what the right position is once you have experimented.
Do not expect to be miraculously transformed in the beginning. Meditation – just like anything else – takes time, patience, and practice.
Tips for Successful Meditation Practice
Many individuals think of sitting on top of a mountaintop with legs folded and fingers poised when thinking about successful meditation. Meditation does not, however, have to be that extreme. As a matter of fact, meditation can be quite simple if you follow a few tried and true tips for successful meditation.
Set Aside an Allotted Time – When it comes to meditating successfully, make sure that you have an allotted time set aside each week for this purpose. If you choose to start meditating, it is best, to begin with, a once per week practice until you are more comfortable with the art of meditating.
Even if you have to put it in red pen on your calendar, put it on your calendar. Use your smartphone to schedule a reminder or even send yourself an email reminding you of your date with rest and relaxation. The rewards of being intentional about meditating are worth their weight in gold.
Let Everyone Know of Your Intentions – Let everyone in your household know that you will be taking on the practice of meditation and when, how, and where you will begin this process of transformation. Let everyone know that you are committed and disciplined in maintaining this goal and that your health and his or her happiness depend on it, as well. Let your family in on a little secret.
Tell them that meditating will be good for you and create a happier more relaxed and healthier you. This will have a trickle-down effect on all of your family members and it is in their best interest to support you as you go on this newfound journey.
Creating a Meditation Room That Works For You
Once you have made a conscious choice to meditate, then the next step is to take action. If you have chosen to meditate at home, then you will need a space where the magic will happen.
We all try to sabotage ourselves and talk ourselves out of things by making excuses as to why we should not do something. However, once you commit to making meditation part of your life, there will be no more excuses.
Creating a Meditation Room
Pick a room in the house and declare that space to be your new meditation space. Speak with your family members if you have family living with you. Explain to them that by sacrificing this space once or twice a week, they are helping you to achieve the goal of calmness and peace.
If your family knows that you will benefit and that they will benefit from the transformation in you as well, they should be more than happy to accommodate you.
Creating a Meditation Space
If the option of having a room all to yourself does not work, do not let that deter you. Choose a space in a room that is designated for your meditation work. Your own bedroom would work wonders.
Things You Will Need
Regardless of whether or not your space is an entire room or a small space in the corner of your bedroom, you can create the space you need for perfect meditation. For this, you will need:
* A space that is void of distraction
* A space that defines you
* A place where you can be comfortable
* A comfortable floor mat or cushion
* Amenities that are conducive to relaxation
Choose a space that has a minimal distraction zone, preferably where no phone exists. Decorate your space so that it defines you in a positive light. If your favorite color is blue, then a blue yoga mat or comfy blue pillow will be great additions. If you love to travel for leisure, put up some pictures of favorite places that you have been.
Make sure you are at your most comfortable in your space. A thick, cushy floor cushion and a fluffy pillow behind your back are ideal ways to start your meditation practice. If your floor mat is not comfortable, you will not be either.
If you wish to meditate to some serene music, buy a CD that wafts this type of music into the background just low enough to get the impact. Burn some incense or some candles, and you will be all set to go.
Once you have designed the space or room based on the theory of relaxation, you will notice how you run there to practice the art of meditation. It will be so inviting, you will not be able to wait.
Common Meditation Problems and Challenges
As with any new adventure, the feeling of starting off with tons of excitement and exhilaration and then falling to the other end of the spectrum is common. When you begin your endeavor of meditation, it is important to remember that there will be times of frustration. Meditation is not a magic pill that, once swallowed, will come easily and effortlessly. It takes practice and it takes patience.
Educate Yourself In The Art Of Meditation
Educate yourself on the art of meditation so that you will have a base knowledge before you begin. Get an online meditation course materials to view, watch some videos online, and gather some reading material on the subject.
Arming yourself with knowledge before you begin will allow you to have a more peaceful and results-oriented experience.
By educating yourself, setting aside a quiet location, letting your family know of your intentions, and securing a quiet spot to meditate in, you can float into a meditation experience that is successful and peaceful all rolled into one.
There are some common problems with mediation in the early stages.
* It is hard to focus – In the beginning, you may have high expectations that meditation will magically transform your life and it will do so immediately. This is not the case. Meditation takes focus. When you find your mind constantly shifting gears and you are unable to sit quietly and focus on breathing, you need to regain control of that focus.
Sometimes picking a focal point in the center of the room or even a focal point that you have created will alleviate the problem of focus. Concentrating on your breathing will also help you gain control of your meditation experience.
* Thinking too much – If you are thinking too much about trying not to think too much, you will sabotage yourself. Try not to focus too much on getting clear and quiet. If you find you are straining the muscles in your forehead, trying to clear your mind, then you are trying too hard. Start with a slow progression of deep breaths and by tensing and releasing various parts of your body and your muscles. When it comes to meditation, too much effort can strain your results.
* Too many distractions – If you have not designated a quiet space for your mediation, chances are that you will not have a successful beginning. It is very important to have a set-aside room or space for your meditation practice. If you have chosen a place with too many distractions and too much traffic, you have set yourself up for failure. In addition, it is imperative to tell your family members that you have a schedule and you intend to stick to it.
* Disregarding your commitment – In the beginning, when you are not quite seeing the immediate results you may have anticipated, it is easy to disregard your commitment. However, make it a point to stick to your commitment even if that means being accountable to a friend or family member. If you give up too soon, you will never reap the amazing benefits of mind, health, and body.
* Difficulty with the breathing rhythm – Sometimes individuals may breathe in too deeply and out too rapidly. The point is not to hyperventilate yourself, but to find that rhythm that works for you. Long, slow, deep inhalations with long, slow exhalations will work better than short breaths in and short breaths out. Once you get the feel for the rhythm, you will have mediation down in no time flat.
Truly Learning How To Relax
Have you ever encountered a friend or family member who tells you to just relax? Don’t you just love that? Telling someone to just relax is like telling someone who is allergic to just stop being allergic.
Some of us are more nervous than others and it is just a part of our genetic makeup. However, we certainly do not have to be stuck in that way of being; we can change our focus and perception and truly learn how to relax.
For some of us, being relaxed is easy, and for others, it is a learned behavior. That is the beauty of relaxing – if you do not know how you can learn. It may take some trial and effort, but it certainly is a learnable characteristic.
With time and practice you, too, can just relax.
Incorporate the Tools You Need to Learn to Relax
Once you have decided to incorporate relaxation into your life, the next step is to take action. A great way to learn how to relax is to practice meditation with a meditation app. There are several forms of meditation and any library can get you started.
Books, DVDs, and CDs are available for you to begin your learning journey.
If yoga is your choice of relaxation, then purchase the mat and DVD, or buy the DVD for your gaming system. Even go all out and buy yourself a yoga outfit.
One of the most important tools to gather, however, is the tool of time. Schedule your relaxation session and let everyone know that you are not to be disturbed. If your family wants a happy you, then they need to respect that space. If staying home and trying to relax proves to be fruitless, join a yoga or meditation class.
Grab a Friend and Go
One of the most successful tips for learning to relax is applicable to any situation. When you grab a friend and incorporate them into the equation, you give yourself a partner to whom you must answer.
Having someone to answer to is a golden nugget. When you only have yourself to answer to, it is too easy to make excuses. A good friend, however, will not let you get away with that.
Pick a Time, Space, and a Place
It is very important to create a time, a space, and a place for your relaxation technique. Choose a designated spot, perhaps in your bedroom where you can close the rest of the world out.
Make a small corner of that room available for your yoga mat, something serene to look at on the wall, and maybe even some candles. This action will speak volumes to you, as it will allow you to commit to the art and act of relaxation.
Learning to relax is something that is very doable if you just put in a little time and effort.
Three Tips to Quiet Your Mind
If you are not overachieving and extremely busy in today’s society, you are the exception and not the norm.
We are all guilty of this; we overextend, overachieve, and overstress ourselves to the point of breaking. Little do we realize, however, that we are hurting our body by hurting our mind.
The Art of Gratitude For A Quiet Respite From Life
It is so easy to be upset when things do not go our way. From the moment we spill our coffee, lock our keys in the car, and forget our lunch, a spiral of circumstances can set us off into a tailspin of negativity. However, we can choose to stay in a state of discontent and let that dictate our day, or we can be grateful for the other things in our lives even if they are not present in front of us right now.
Did you ever notice that when something nice happens, we tend to smile for a moment and then move on? However, when something goes wrong, we feel the need to tell everyone and anyone that will listen. It is in those exact moments of discontent that we need to focus on what we are grateful for, and it is then and only then that we will pull ourselves up from discontent.
Keeping the focus on gratitude offers your mind something to smile about, regardless of outside circumstances. Focusing on people, places, and even things that make you grateful gives your mind the quiet respite that it needs to stay active and healthy in the future.
A Time for Nothingness On Your Todo List
Everyone has a busy schedule; that is a known fact. We all set our schedules to overflowing and then complain that we do not have time for ourselves. Take a good hard look at your schedule and see what you can delete and what you can delegate. If you are going to have a healthy mind, you need to take care of it just as you would your body. One cannot function healthily without the other.
The best tip for quieting your mind is to put that on your schedule. Put it in big red pen on your calendar, text yourself a reminder, and place it on your list of things to do this week.
Take a Moment To Be In The Moment
Being in the moment has become a cliché; however, if you really take the time and trouble to learn what that means, you will learn how to quiet your mind. Focus on what you are doing at the exact moment you are doing it.
In this way, you are focused on the moment at hand and not two days from now when something big is arising. These are just three helpful tips for quieting your mind.
Beginner Meditation Techniques – Getting Started Down The Road
Easy Breathing Practices For Successful Meditation
While a part of meditation is getting in touch with your awareness, another part has to do with relaxing and clearing your mind. Breathing is an important tool to get to both those places. Breathing may seem as simple as breathing in and out; however, this is not entirely the case.
For mediation to be successful, you will need to read up a little, listen to some Mp3s, and most of all practice a bit of breathing properly. Here are a few easy breathing practices to make your beginning mediation experience an enlightened one.
Proper Sitting for Proper Breathing
First and foremost, make sure that you are comfortable. Sitting upright with a straight spine will help the energy flow and prepare you for proper breathing exercises. Do not sit too rigidly, or you will be uncomfortable and unresponsive to the proper breathing format.
Relaxation of the Body
Once you have gotten into a comfortable seated position, it is important to relax your body to prepare it for breathing techniques and meditation. No matter how well you practice your breathing, if your body is tense, you will not have success. Begin by relaxing the muscles in your toes, moving to your ankles, and work your way all the way up to the top of your head. Once your body is in its relaxed position, then it will be time to begin your proper breathing techniques.
Pay Attention to Your Breaths
In the beginning, simply pay attention to your breaths. Be attuned to the rhythm of the breaths, focusing on the in and out of those breaths. Do not try to control those breaths; just be aware of them. It is very important to be aware of how you are breathing in the beginning before trying to learn any new technique on how to breathe. Being aware is an important part of the process.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Once you are acutely aware of how you breathe, it is important to pay attention to your body. If you are not experiencing your stomach rising and falling with each breath, you may be tense at the moment. It is important to have your breath enter into the nostrils and leave through mouth naturally.
Establish a Breathing Rhythm
It is very important to establish a breathing rhythm. Once you become aware of your breathing, you will notice that it is easier to establish a rhythm. Once that rhythm is established, you will find your meditation to flow easily and you will get the most benefit out of that meditation.
It is very important to note that with any new undertaking, there will be questions and adjustments, and your mind will probably want to talk you out of it as well. If you persist and experiment, you will get to where you need to be with your meditation practice.
Understand that meditation is not something that will happen overnight or something that will be automatic from the onset. It takes time and it takes practice.
Take the time to read through some books or get some audio/visual tapes to acclimate yourself with the art and practice of meditation. In this way, you will know what to expect.
Start to focus on your breathing throughout the day. When you are hurried and rushed, do you notice that your breath is shorter and more labored? If so, begin by focusing on each breath, taking deep breaths in through the nostrils and releasing through the mouth. You should also notice the rise and fall of your stomach as you focus on your breathing.
Be intentional about your meditation. Meditation is a practice and a learned skill. It needs to be practiced intentionally in order for it to work. It does not just happen to you.
Dress appropriately for meditation. If you are trying to sneak in ten minutes of meditation in your lunch hour, dressed in your business skirt and heels, chances are you will be rushed and harried. Set aside a time that is appropriate where you can wear loose-fitting clothing and where you can concentrate.
Begin with the practice of releasing tension in all your body parts. Focus on the feet first and release tension in that area; move up to your ankles, etc. Do this until you have reached the top of your head. For some practitioners, tightening and releasing muscles as they go along makes for greater awareness of the release.
Practice your breathing techniques together with the release of tension in your body parts. At first, this will seem difficult; however, it will become easier as time goes on. You will be able to tighten and release your muscles and breathe in and out to release that tension.
Stretching your muscles a bit before sitting to meditate is a great way to get blood circulating and get in the moment.
Choose a focal point, if you wish. For some, meditation is only done with their eyes closed, while others need a focal point. Yours could be a picture on the wall of a serene setting.
Be consistent with your meditation practices. Do not let circumstances take over control of your meditation practice. Before you know it, you will become a pro – just stay consistent.
CAN MEDITATION HELP MANAGE STRESS AND ANXIETY? COUNTLESS MEDICAL STUDIES HAVE PROVEN THAT MEDITATION IS VERY BENEFICIAL FOR STRESS AND ANXIETY. PHYSICALLY, IT LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE AND HEART RATE AND GIVES YOU AN AWARENESS OF YOUR BODY. MENTALLY, IT GIVES RESPITE FROM DAUNTING CONCERNS. PUTTING DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR PROBLEMS OFTEN ALLOWS YOU TO VIEW SITUATIONS WITH GREATER PERSPECTIVE.
DO I HAVE TO MAKE MY MIND BLANK WHEN MEDITATING? THIS IS PERHAPS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE FOR THE HUMAN MIND: TO STOP THINKING. TO MAKE THE MIND GO BLANK IS TO TELL THE THOUGHTS TO GO AWAY. IT IS TO PUT THE BRAIN OUT OF BUSINESS.
YOU NEED ONLY TO FORGIVE THE THOUGHTS FOR BOTHERING YOU AND TO TELL THEM, “WE WILL DEAL WITH THIS LATER.” TO ATTAIN THOUGHTLESS AWARENESS IS THE GOAL OF MEDITATION. TO SWITCH OFF THE MIND IS TO SURRENDER. YOU ARE SAYING “I AM NOT DOING THIS.”
WILL I NEED TO MAKE LIFESTYLE CHANGES FOR MEDITATION? NO LIFESTYLE CHANGES ARE NECESSARY WITH MEDITATION UNLESS THEY HAPPEN NATURALLY WITHOUT YOUR EFFORT. THE MEDITATION LIFESTYLE ADJUSTS ITSELF TO THE REAL NEEDS OF OUR BODY AND SPIRIT, MAKING OUR LIFE TRULY COMFORTABLE AND EASY. YOU WILL FIND WITH TIME THAT UNWANTED THINGS JUST FALL AWAY.