Blog By: Kavitha Iyer.
Meditation is a big topic.
There are countless approaches, benefits, techniques, and schools of practice. And if you’re like most people, you’re probably looking for a simple and comprehensive overview.
A Beginner’s Guide To Meditation
We created this beginner’s guide as an introduction for anyone interested in meditation. If you’re just getting started and you’re new to the art and science of meditation, you’ll find answers to what Meditation is, some of its benefits and how you can start it today!
What Is Meditation?
Let’s start at the beginning. Meditation is a 2,500+ year old practice for training the mind. Historically a practice reserved for reclusive monks, kung-fu masters, austere yogis, and ochre-robed swamis, it’s now the preferred performance-enhancing practice of R&B moguls, Super Bowl Champions, Olympic athletes, and A-list celebrities.
Meditation has gone mainstream.
One reason for that is that meditation is generally considered one of the most effective ways to train and focus your attention. How does that work?
When you sit down to meditate, you allow yourself to become very still, relaxed, and alert. And then you focus your attention on one thing. Technically, it can be anything. But traditionally it’s something like your breath or a mantra—a word or phrase—which you repeat over and over again for the duration of your meditation.
When you do this, your mind will wander. That’s natural. The practice of meditation is all about bringing your attention back to the one thing you’re focused on. If you sit in meditation for an hour, your attention might drift away into thoughts and daydreams more than 500 times.
That’s fine. Your only job when you practice meditation is to bring your attention back when it strays from your object of focus. And it’s important to stay relaxed, still, and alert while you practice.
As you do this over and over again, you’ll slowly enter into a highly relaxed and focused state of mind. This is often accompanied by a feeling of deep well-being. And now, science has shown us that the meditative state has extremely positive physiological and neurological effects.
Benefits of Meditation.
As you get used to letting go in meditation, you’re going to start experiencing benefits—lots and lots of benefits.
The benefits of meditation are manifold because it can reverse your stress response, thereby shielding you from the effects of chronic stress. When practicing meditation, your heart rate and breathing slow down, your blood pressure normalizes, you use oxygen more efficiently, and you sweat less. Your adrenal glands produce less cortisol, your brain ages at a slower rate, and your immune function improves. Your mind also clears and your creativity increases.
Although advanced practitioners have talked about the positive effects of meditation for millennia, science has now jumped into the ring, adding the weight of a growing catalogue of research from prestigious institutions to back up these ancient claims.
There are several categories of benefit you can experience from meditation. There are emotional, psychological, and physical benefits. There are spiritual and professional benefits as well as biological, physiological, and neurological benefits.
How To Meditate? : A Simple Way To Start Right Now.
If you want to start meditating right now, here is a simple way to begin. Find a comfortable place to sit. Make sure your spine is straight.
Once you are settled and seated comfortably, you can either close your eyes or leave them slightly open, gazing at a point on the floor in front of you. Now you’re ready to begin practicing the art of attention.
As you breathe in, pay attention to your inhalation, feeling it fill your lungs, and then exhale, easily and naturally, counting “One” in your mind as you do so. Do this with your next breath, counting “Two” as you exhale, and with the next, “Three,” and so on. When you get to “Five,” begin again with the next breath at “One.” 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
If you get distracted and lose count, no problem–just start again at “One.” Don’t force your breathing, but allow yourself to completely relax while remaining fully alert, focused only on your breathing as you count silently in your mind, one breath at a time.
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