[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]T[/su_dropcap]oday, we’re going to meditate. Alright, I know it might seem a little quirky. I mean what is it? Is it praying? Is it napping? Do you have to shave your head and wear robes and sit still until your butt falls asleep?
Meditation can be a lot of things. The word comes from the latin term meditari, which means, vaguely enough, to contemplate. But, no matter how you go about meditating, the goal is the same: focus.
The good news is anyone can meditate, and there are proven scientific benefits to meditating. One study at the University of Massachusetts concluded that people who performed a simple meditation exercise every day were 33 percent more likely to state that they were in a better mood after 10 weeks. They were also 29 percent less likely to state that they were bothered by physical pain.
Better yet, the National Institute of Health found that daily meditation helps improve blood flow to the brain. It also helps blood pressure decrease within the first 10 to 15 minutes of practice. What’s so great about that? Well, decreased blood pressure means you’re less likely to have cardiac events, kidney failure, and aneurysms. Plus, low blood pressure helps increase cognitive function.
With all these benefits, let’s give it a shot! Meditation comes in many forms, which means anyone can do it.
There are breathing exercises, visualization, mantra meditation–where you repeat the same sound over and over again–but let’s start with the basics.
It’s time for meditation 101: Did you know that long ago in Buddhist monasteries, monks used to get waked on the back with a piece of wood when they started dozing during their meditation exercise? Don’t worry, just be comfortable and find a quiet place. You can be in a chair, sitting on the floor, or even lying down. Just make sure your spine is straight. This is a simple breath-focused meditation.
Close your eyes and breathe through your nose. Focus on the rise and fall of your breath. You can think about your inhale and exhale, or on the sensation of your lungs, filling and emptying. Your mind will wander: you’ll find yourself thinking about work, or rent, or how you keep forgetting to return a DVD to Netflix. The Buddhist used to call this sort of mind wandering the monkey’s in the mind. Whenever you spot a mind monkey, bring it back to your breath. You want to be present.
If you’re counting breaths, restart at one every time you have to re-focus. You probably won’t even get to 10, and that’s totally normal.
Hey, most people have never done this before. Right now, we’re going to guide you through your first 100 seconds of meditation.
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in one, breathe out one. Let your day pass you by. You might think about home, you might think about work–watch your thoughts as they drift past you. Like a leaf on a river. Breathe in, breathe out. Imagine your lungs filling with cool, blue air. Release all the tensions of the day. Breathe in, breathe out. Relax the muscles in your neck. Breathe in, breathe out. Release the muscles in your abdomen. Breathe in, breathe out. Let your shoulders fall down while keeping your spine straight. Breathe in, breathe out.
Good job! How do you feel?
Try meditating for ten minutes every day for a week. If you’re not seeing an improvement, try a different technique. There is something out there for everyone.
When you’re all done, bring your newly centered self back and tell us about your experience!