The secret to instant inner calm and happiness
-Mar 2, Rachel Richards, Mind -
More often that not it’s the most busy and stressed-out people who could benefit from meditating but have never tried it out because they think it’s a New Age fad. But what if you think of it as just ‘relaxation’ or applying a brake to your brain and slowing it down to stop it from racing?
The benefits of meditating
1. Less stressed out and better able to cope.
2. Helps with depression and anxiety.
3. Better concentration.
Those are the known health benefits of meditation, which all have strong research backing them. And, the practice of mindfulness has also been shown in studies to ease hot flushes during menopause, boost the immune system, reduce pain and lower blood pressure.
A better-balanced-you can handle the daily frustrations of life, from traffic to irritating colleagues to kids’ tantrums – with a deep breath and a calm you never knew you had.
So, instead of grimacing your way through the day to the point where you want to scream, you’ll glide through every task and laugh off annoyances.
How to start meditating
There are several types of meditation. In some, you repeat a mantra, in others you visualise relaxing scenes. Breathing exercises and postures can also be involved.
To get started with meditation, it may be helpful to go to an intro class offered nearby – many community centers, yoga studios, gyms and meditation centers have open houses and free intro classes.
But to do it on your own, start here:
It doesn’t really matter what you sit on. At a meditation center, it’s usually a cushion or a little bench, but a chair in your sitting room or bedroom is fine to start with. Sit up straight – staying in an upright posture is important so you stay alert.
Some people close their eyes, while others keep them open but fixed on the floor a few feet ahead of them. Choose whichever you’d like.
When you’re trying to quiet your mind, you might find that what feels like 10 minutes is really 10 seconds — and then you’ll just keep glancing at the clock.
Breathe through your nose and focus on your breath. Try not to overthink it.
Bring your attention to your breath. Place your attention only on your breath coming into your body and leaving it.
Your mind will wander. That’s OK. Some days, you may not be able to concentrate or it’s harder than usual. You might get irritated with the practice. That’s also OK. Think of yourself as a watcher — watch yourself feeling those emotions and thinking those thoughts, accept them without judgment, and then let go and gently refocus.
How to shut your mind off during meditation
A common complaint from people learning to meditate is, “I can’t shut my mind off.” It’s a well-known challenge of meditation, but it’s not the problem you might think it is.
Your restless mind is known as, “monkey mind” in the Buddhist tradition. Meditation helps you shift the chatter in your brain so it’s more like background noise than the main attraction.
Not being able to quiet your mind completely doesn’t mean that you’re failing at meditation. It’s part of the process, and it’s a step toward awareness of yourself. To see the full benefits of meditation, set a goal: just a few minutes a day, every day. You can work on lengthening your sessions and on the nuances of the practice later. For now – just a few minutes a day, just for you.
Don’t you feel better already?