10 instant benefits of meditation
Despite popular belief, meditation is not something only practiced by monks in Far East Asia. It’s actually becoming a more and more integral part of everyday life for many Australians – and is something you definitely need to incorporate into your life, too.
Why? Well we bet you didn’t know that meditation is actually an instant all-round health improver. It’s an exercise for your mind and body that delivers instant benefits – and by the truckload. Want to know why you should be putting 15-20 minutes aside on a daily basis to focus on yourself and clear your mind? Check out just some of the instant physical and physiological benefits of meditation…
- Decreases your respiratory rate, so that you feel instantly calm and more relaxed.
- Decreases muscle tension, so that you’re less likely to experience cramping and muscle soreness.
- Improves flow of air to the lungs, so that your breathing becomes clearer.
- Helps with focus and concentration, so that your mind is mentally prepared.
- Relaxes your nervous system, so you don’t feel as anxious and jittery.
- Enhances energy, strength and vigour, so you feel more ready to face the day.
- Increases creativity, so that you’re able to look at things from a new perspective.
- Improves sleep, as your mind and body are more relaxed.
- Increases blood flow and slows your heart rate, so that you don’t feel as stimulated when you’re supposed to be relaxed.
- Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation, so that stress and worry become a thing of the past.
SO HOW DO YOU MEDITATE, ANYWAY?
Now that you know the benefits, it’s pretty important that you actually know how to meditate, right?
If you want to prop yourself up against a wall, place a soft pillow in between yourself and the wall and simply cross your legs. You don’t need to adopt any bendy ‘lotus’ positions that don’t feel comfortable.
Keep searching for parts of your body that aren’t relaxed and consciously relax them. If you’re struggling, adjust your posture so that you’re better aligned. Ensure that the muscles in your face are properly relaxed, too.
Focus on the flow of your breath.
Take this time to focus on your inhalation and exhalation. It’s important to focus, without judgement. That means no thoughts like ‘it sounds a little raspy’, or ‘I hope I’m not getting a cold’. The goal is to try to silence the ‘chattering’ in your mind by refocusing whenever your mind starts to wander, until it slowly fades away.
Find an anchor.
An anchor, commonly identified as a mantra, can be repeated in your mind and helps to bring your mind back whenever it begins to wander towards the chatter. A mantra could be a sacred word, such as ‘om’, that is uttered at a steady rhythm. You can choose to recite it verbally or just in your mind. For beginners, it can be easier to count your breaths, from one through to ten, before starting again at one. To keep intruding images away from your mind, visualise a place that calms you, either real or imaginary.
Silence your mind.
Once you’ve trained your mind to focus on just one thing, the next step is to focus on nothing at all. ‘Clearing’ the mind requires tremendous discipline but is the pinnacle of meditation. If thoughts do keep coming into your head, let them come and go without labeling it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Take this approach to any thoughts that return to your mind until silence is obtained.
TIPS TO CREATE A PERFECT MEDITATION SPACE
- Find a quiet place where you’re unlikely to be interrupted.
- Make sure the room is filled with light.
- Leave a window open so that fresh air is circulating in the room (unless it’s far too noisy outside).
- Ensure any televisions, radios or mobile phones are turned off.
- If you prefer to meditate outside, ensure you’re in a quiet area that’s close to nature.
- Concentrate on your breathing at the beginning, before your mind wanders away.
- Ensure your breathing comes from the deepest part of your belly.
Do you believe in the power of meditation? What are your top tips for relaxation?