by Jenn Dawson: Meditation is the act of silencing the mind…
Dating back to 3000 BCE, meditation has been proven to be a beneficial tool. Meditation helps to relieve stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, increase perceived happiness, reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack, increase energy, and influence the autonomic nervous system to better the immune system.
How to meditate
There are a few simple steps to take in order to practice a good meditation.
- Sit up, don’t lie down, with a relaxed but straight back. Lotus pose is not necessary, but is a good pose to sit in for posture and comfort.
- Meditate first thing in the morning for optimal practice. Meditate again in the evening once you are ready to practice twice a day (the most optimal).
- You may choose to burn a candle for something calming to rest your eyes upon. You may also choose to close your eyes.
- Place your palms somewhere comfortable, such as on your lap or your knees, releasing any tension.
- When you are new to meditating, you may choose to set a timer. Start out with just five minutes a day. After that feels comfortable, add a minute until you reach twenty minutes.
- Meditate every single day.
Three ways to meditate
Methods of meditation include focusing on breath or focusing on a mantra and eventually working toward a silent mind.
- Breathe deeply and slowly.
Concentrate on your breath. Take a slow, deep inhale and then slowly release the breath, focusing your attention on it. This is the core of your meditation. You are going to concentrate on your breathing the whole time. This is for two reasons: to help ensure your breath is deep enough and to provide you with one thing to concentrate on. (Our minds are constantly going, thinking about multiple things at once. Buddhists call this “monkey mind”. During meditation, we are trying to rid ourselves of the monkey mind and slow down our thoughts to focus on just one thing. Our breath is the perfect medium to focus on.)
A mantra is the repetition of a word, phrase, or sound. A common mantra is om (aum). The mantra can be repeated slowly, quietly, and without force. This helps the mind to focus on one single thought – the sound coming from your lips.
- Silent Mind.
After you have gotten comfortable with and used to focusing your mind on one thing, you can move to a silent mind with no thoughts. If a thought makes its way into your mind, you may consciously choose to rid your mind of that thought.