Eastern philosophers say that meditation is not to gain benefits – it just involves being present in the moment.
However, being present can bring its’ own benefits. The aim is to free the mind from what it can’t control. This may be from external pressures or from holding on to potentially damaging emotions. Getting away from both of these can be highly beneficial.
Many people are scared to try meditation as they can’t imagine emptying their minds or sitting still for long periods of time – when in fact, neither of these are necessary.
How Meditation can help you
Studies on relaxation have shown that meditation can have the following positive effects. It can –
- lower your blood pressure
- improve your blood circulation
- lower your heart rate
- slow your breathing down
- decrease anxiety
- lower the levels of cortisol in your blood (This helps with high blood pressure and a low immune system).
- Make you feel better about yourself and others
- decrease stress
- make your relaxation deeper and more refreshing
An Easy Meditation for beginners
The easiest way to try meditation for the first time is to focus on your breathing.
- Lie on your bed or sit in your most comfortable chair.
- Breathe normally.
- As you become more relaxed, try to focus on each breath. Notice how your body moves as you breathe in and out. Focus on your chest, shoulders, ribs and stomach – each in turn. You’re not aiming to control your breathing – just to notice it.
- If your mind wanders (and it will – this is normal) don’t stress about it. Just bring your focus back onto your breathing.
Try this for only 3 or 4 minutes to start with. Do it regularly and increase the time by only a minute or so each time until you can meditate comfortably for longer.
The example above is a form of concentration meditation. This means focusing on one thing for instance, a candle flame or repeating one word. Remember to let intrusive thoughts go by re-focusing on your concentration item. Dong this regularly will help you to concentrate and get more benefit from meditating.
If you find focusing difficult, you might like to try mindfulness meditation. This is the opposite of concentration meditation because in this form, you observe your thoughts as they pass through your mind. The key word here is ‘observe’. You’re not going to let the thoughts upset or worry you. You are simply observing like a bystander.
This is a great meditation for anyone who is at the mercy of their negative inner voice. We all have those repeated thoughts of how we’re not good enough etc but if you do this meditation regularly you can observe your thought pattern and start to change any negatives to develop a positive balance.
Try both and see which suits you best. Don’t give up as it can take a few tries to start to feel the benefit. Once you do, it will be easier and more natural to make meditation part of your daily life.