If learning how to meditate has been on your to-do list, wait no longer to begin. You don’t need any fancy equipment or training to reap the health and wellness benefits of taking some time to be still and go within.
If you haven’t had much experience with meditation, the 10-20 minute anti-stress vacation you can take in your chair, it’s easy to overlook it, equate it with woo woo fairy dust or just think it’s way too difficult to attempt. Wrong on all accounts.
Meditation is an excellent way to decompress and reduce stress, especially from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. In fact, it’s good for your health.
Seems there’s been interesting studies looking at meditation’s health benefits. A 2012 study showed African-Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke when they compared them with African-Americans who simply attended a health education class in the past.
And a 2014 study found that meditation has also been shown to improve conditions like high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cortisol levels.
If that’s not enough, meditation is being studied for its weight loss benefits, its effect on anti-aging and Alzheimer’s, mood and well being, creativity, sleep, skin problems—even with improving marital relationships.
Hey, why not give it a try? If you’re just beginning here are five meditation hacks to make it easier to get started:
Tip # 1: Meditation Takes Practice. Whether you read an article, grab a teacher or try sitting quietly in your chair close your eyes and try not to focus on anything but your breathing, it takes practice. It may not come easy, it may feel like torture, you may think nothing is happening. That’s normal. It’s supposed to feel like that at first. Start slow with five minutes. Don’t expect you’ll be able to clear your mind or have any expectations other than relaxing for five minutes of deep breathing. Once you begin the habit, however, you’ll quickly begin to notice the benefits like being calmer, more centered, relaxed or less stressed throughout your day.
Tip #2: Enjoy the quiet. No matter what you think is happening—or not—learn to embrace and enjoy the five to 20 minutes of quietude you find when you meditate. Believe it or not, this is part of meditation’s allure.
Tip #3: Use a mantra. Not to get all ‘60-speak, but concentrating on a phrase or a mantra while you meditate can help you focus. The most basic mantra is Om, but mentally repeating something such as breathe, quiet, relax or just be can help you when other thoughts roll in to distract you.
Tip #4: Focus on your breathing. When you first start, pay attention to your breath. Feel the air as it flows in and out. Relax as your chest expands and contracts. Each time you breathe out, let yourself relax more and more deeply. Little by little, release any tension that you feel in your body.
Tip #5: Just start. While there are many types of meditation and practices to try, simply start by getting comfortable in your chair in a quiet room. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing or your mantra while you breathe in and out. Every time a thought or worry comes to mind, push it away and go back to your practice. With time, it gets easier and easier to push away outside thoughts and get lost in your meditative state, from which you’ll reap many of the rewards mentioned above.
Mediation can be a simple, timeless and practical way to burn stress, increase wellness, keep a positive outlook and improve your health. Namaste.