Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Meditation can feel intimidating and can also seem like an escapist routine to those who have never experienced the long term benefits of this powerful practice.
Scientifically the benefits of meditation are undeniable. Based on the The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga: 8 Weeks to Strength, Awareness, and Flexibility by Marlynn Wei, MD, JD and James E. Groves, MD, the benefits of meditation include a balanced nervous system, lower blood pressure, lower heart rate and lower breathing rate. Wei and Groves explain, “When you meditate regularly, you are”working out” your mind and making areas that manage attention, emotional regulation, motivation, and body awareness ‘stronger.”
Meditation is not meditation unless it is habit, and like many things, requires practice to attain the benefits. One incredibly important consideration to make when beginning a meditation practice is to find something that works for you, here are few ideas to get started.
General Meditation Guidelines
Setup a safe and supportive space. Choose a place where you can have a few minutes of peace and quiet.
Schedule ten minutes in your day for mindfulness, and give yourself the permission to simply start with 3-5 minutes.
Find a comfortable seat. It takes training to be able to sit up intentionally for extended periods of time. Perhaps you have a comfortable cushion you might be able to use, or maybe you would like to invest in a meditation pillow or yoga bolster.
Close your eyes, drawing your awareness inward even if it is just how you begin. Scan your body, feel your breath.
If you would like to incorporate a question, do. Maybe, what is it I need to know?
Return to full awareness mindfully, and leave your meditation with intention.
What’s Your Style?
This style of meditation requires turning your awareness towards your breath. This is a simple place to start. Take a tall seat. Find the rhythm of your breath-- maybe breathing to the tune of “Breathe in, I am breathing in. Breathe out, I am breathing out.”
Maybe it is easier for you to breathe in count one, exhale count two, up to six, and beginning another round at completion.
Mantras are powerful tools that can help cultivate positive awareness towards your intentions.
It is important to first find stillness and cultivate your awareness to your seat, and breath. Take a moment or a few minutes for observation without judgment. You can invite in a mantra like, I am _______. Fill in your blank.
Inhale, I am. Exhale your affirmation or mantra.
Walking Meditation or Mindful Walking
Walking meditation works well for individuals struggling with restlessness. Walking meditation can also provide you with feelings of renewal, and stress relief, and might work well for someone who works inside of a busy office.
This offering is practiced by pairing walking with mantra, breath, or simple awareness to your body.
Each step or every few steps can match a mantra or breathing pattern, think four step inhales and four step exhales. Perhaps you just feel your body in space; feel your body where it is relative to itself, or feel your heel root down and the natural massage that occurs for the bottom of your feet as you place one foot in front of the other.
Meditation looks incredibly different for each person and your needs are specific. Choose something that makes sense for you. Lofty goals can deter you from a consistent meditation or mindfulness practice. It is much more effective to start with just a few minutes each day than to try and sit for thirty minutes every two weeks.
Start small, track your progress and see what unfolds.