In this fast paced and hectic world we can all feel a bit scatterbrained and worn down on any given day. The best gift we can give to ourselves is some time for meditation and reflection. Its not necessary to shave our heads and chant the Bhagavad Gita to have a beneficial meditation session. Like anything, everyone has their own preferences and comfort levels. As long as you quiet your mind and relax for at least 15 minutes, you have done a good job. Meditation is a great way to get in touch with ourselves, and the world around us.
Some benefits of meditation:
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Decreases blood pressure
- Helps heal your body from whatever ails you
- Increased immune function
- Helps ease chronic pain
- Increases creativity, awareness, and concentration
- Cures insomnia
- Slows down the aging process
- Helps overcome addictions
- Enhances strength and energy
- Increases serotonin (happiness)
- Relieves PMS
- Creates a feeling of well-being
- Aids in weight loss
- Builds self confidence
This list could go on for a very, very long time. The basic idea is, if you reduce your stress and understand your body better, then you will be healthier and happier in infinite ways. Meditation does just that, however the only problem is.. actually doing it.
I have found that meditation is one of the hardest habits to get into. To be quite honest, I haven’t exactly established it as a habit yet. You would think 15 minutes of no thought would be the simplest thing on earth to do. However, once quieted, your ego embarks on a vicious revolt. Remember that girl who teased you in the 10th grade and put gum in your hair? She will come visit you when you are trying to quiet your mind, and she will make your life hell again until you wonder if you are crazy or not. Remember when your boyfriend hurt your feelings last week? After 5 minutes of quiet time all of those feelings will resurface, and you become one very un-zen biotch.
The problem is, your brain is so used to a constant influx of information and processing, that when it is not needed – it panics! Being the rabid internet user that I am, I have acquired a nice little bout of self-inflicted ADD. This is a serious issue not only for me, but for everyone waist-deep in this information saturated era. With our iphones, blackberrys, laptops, and cell phones we are constantly connected to everyone and everything in the world -yet we are becoming more and more disconnected with ourselves. Meditation has become crucial to sanity and a well balanced life.
I have found that the best way to embark upon setting up a nice little meditation ritual is using a guide and not relying just on focused thoughts. Guides are used to help you ease into a state of relaxation and remind you where to focus your energy, thoughts, and breath. They can be spoken word, a focal point, a mantra, and a number of other things. Your creativity is your limit with this. Here are my two favorite ways to force concentration:
Focus on a flame.
This is my absolute favorite way to meditate. The flame as a focal point naturally puts me in a trance-like state and relaxes my mind. To do this, turn out all the lights in the room. Light a candle and place it right in front of you. Relax your eyes until they are almost closed and focus on the flame. Don’t think about the flame, just let it be. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. You can do this in silence or play soothing ambient music. This works for me, but if open fire makes you nervous you might want to try water, a spot on the wall, or a painting or picture you like. Don’t choose anything you have an emotional connection to. This will bring about emotions and thoughts that you want to avoid.
Use a guided meditation recording.
Listening to someone guide you through a relaxation process or visualization is incredibly beneficial and a great stepping stone to independent meditation . All you have to do is be still and listen. That’s it! If your mind wanders, gently bring it back. I would suggest using audio and not video. Video uses up visual and audio stimulation which might be too overwhelming. Here are some great sites that offer free guided meditations:
This is just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more to learn about meditation and mindfulness. Here are some more resources to help you learn more and advance your practice.
Please join me in the process of attempting to achieve a few moments of meditation a day. I genuinely believe that the benefits to your mind body and soul are truly worth it. I would love to hear your thoughts on this process and the progress that you make along your spiritual journey.