As we begin a new year, it is a wonderful time to begin the practice of meditation, if you have not already incorporated meditation into your life. Meditation is one easy way to combat the effects of daily stress, and take back control of your health. Just 20 minutes a day can reduce stress and help your brain to recharge.
The Benefits of Meditation
Throughout my own work as a researcher and educator with a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Doctorate of Education, I have found that simple meditation techniques can do so much, including:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Increase your circulation
- Throw more blood to the prefrontal cortex
- Enhance your executive function, working memory, concentration, and visuospatial processing
- Help you hold images longer
- Process information better
- Allow for contemplation, intuition, and creativity to thrive.
How to Begin a Meditation Practice
Meditation isn’t as difficult as you might think. It is actually quite easy to get started.
- Set your alarm for 20 minutes, twice a day. This is the time you will be meditating. By setting your alarm, you relax and don’t have to worry about how much longer you have to go.
- Simply sit or lie down with your eyes shut in a comfortable position.
- In the beginning, your mind will wander and bring in outside sounds and thoughts; just invite all of your distractions into your meditation, don’t resist them. What resists persists. Ultimately, all of these distractions will fall away as you learn to focus your mind in meditation.
- Some people like using a mantra, some people like using a word. The power of a mantra is that you can’t assign a meaning to it, therefore you can’t associate any thoughts with it as you empty your mind. A simple mantra such as “om” will do.
- Before you begin to meditate, relax your body by isometrically tensing and releasing all the muscle groups starting from the tips of your toes and ending at the top of your head. Just squeeze and release and check in with your body, making sure that you are relaxed.
- Then, follow your breath. As you breathe in you will notice that the breath is cool, as you breath out you will notice that your breath is warm. Focus on your breath and bring in your mantra while concentrating on the bridge between your eyes.
This is how you meditate.
The Power of Meditation
Through meditation you develop consciousness. By accessing your own unconscious, you gather insight into your conflicts, and find the capacity and resources to meet them.
In our culture, dominated by 24/7 news and social media, and thriving with celebrity and tabloid news, meditation gives you time out. It has the capacity to open you to the wholeness in yourself. In our world of artificial images, meditation can awaken you to your own magnificent source and, by doing so, transform you.