Meditation has so many health benefits from reducing blood pressure, increasing immunity, relieving chronic pain relief, and managing stress. If you are new to the practice, follow the below tips for beginning meditation.
Even though science hasn’t yet connected what happens in the meditating brain and the immune system, a study done at the University of Wisconsin saw an increase in electrical activity in regions of the left frontal lobe after eight weeks of training in meditation. That area of the brain tends to be more active in optimistic people, and optimistic people tend to live longer and have both a reduced risk of heart attacks and a lower rate of surgery. Plus positive people and have more healthy relationships.
People who are prone to anxiety, stress or over thinking everything can make positive changes in their lives with meditation. This is important because anxiety and stress lead to tension and release of hormones in the body that cause other health problems. Meditation helps calm the nervous system and helps fight irritability. It can help you to improve your relationships by helping you recognize irritable thoughts (like nagging or complaining) before you blurt them out and cause more stress in your relationships.
Find a Beginning Meditation Method That Works for You
Find a meditation practice that speaks to you. In the beginning, the goals are to become aware of your thoughts and to be able to redirect your attention back to your point of focus. Do not criticize yourself if you have trouble with this. The more you practice, the better you will develop this skill. Three simple beginning meditation exercises anyone can do include the walking method, guided meditation and mindfulness.
Even if you have been held back from meditation because you are turned off by groovy, hippy dippy methods, beginner meditation can be as simple as taking a walk. In the walking method you can do a six-minute walking meditation that involves one minute of paying attention to the following:
- The feeling of walking;
- The feeling of your breath
- The sensation of wind or air on your skin;
- Listening to what you hear; and
- Focusing on what you can see.
After that, follow it with five minutes of open awareness. In this phase you can allow anything you can observe or sense in the present environment to enter into your awareness. Don’t try to look for things to see or feel or hear. Let them rise up into your awareness on their own. If you find that you begin thinking of past or future thoughts, use one of the points of focus to bring your attention back into the present surroundings.
You can modify this to suit your needs. For example, you can have three minutes of observation followed by three minutes of open awareness.
Guided meditation is another method that is good for beginners because it involves listening to a recorded speaker taking you through the meditation. It is especially good for using before bed when you have insomnia and are looking to get better sleep. You can find some guided mediation podcasts and YouTube channels.
Mindfulness exercises can take less than a minute to do and are good for people who are not interested in or ready to take on a more formal meditation practice. Mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. It is a state of having active and open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings or sensations from a distance (without judging them as good or bad). You can simply choose to focus on your breathing and how that feels, taking a couple of mindful bites of food while eating, taking a break from work and simply looking out the window, or paying attention to the way air feels on your skin. You can also scan your body for any sensations of discomfort and seek to ease those discomforts.
You can start with small increments and work your way up to longer periods of time. In the beginning you can meditate for just a couple of minutes a day and increase meditation over time make it to over 20 minutes of mediation. Think you don’t have time? Meditation frees your mind and organizes your thoughts so that you have better use of your time.
Try Incorporating Meditation into Your Day
Start incorporating the walking method, guided meditation, mindfulness or other method into your daily routine. A great way to get started is by doing a 21- to 30-day meditation project. The longer you stick with it in the beginning, the more likely you are to continue doing it. Once you see the results of reduced stress, less anxiety, improved relationships and reduced blood pressure you’ll be hooked and ready for more.