If you’ve ever tried to meditate and found it hard to concentrate on nothing or boring to just sit around, you are not alone. Meditation is difficult – even for people who do it regularly. But it’s worth the struggle considering people who meditate tend to have better health outcomes.
That said, if you’re trying to add meditation into your routine, it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. As with many things, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to meditate. Here are some simple tips to help meditation seem more manageable.
How to nail meditation
- Find a quiet(ish) spot. While you can meditate anywhere, distractions are – well – distracting. If you set yourself up in a mostly quiet and peaceful area, you’ll have an easier time relaxing. That said, if you're unable to find somewhere quiet (like the train), you can put your earbuds in and listen to something calming. Or, you can do your best to tune everything out.
- Go ahead, get comfy. Who said you have to sit in a cross-legged position to meditate? Definitely not anyone who meditates on a regular basis. Sit up, lay down. Be on your stomach, back, or side. It really doesn’t matter as long as you’re in a position you can stay in with ease for at least a few minutes (though meditation could be as short as a few deep breaths). If you're not sure what position will work best for you, try a few different positions to see which makes you most comfortable.
- Close your eyes if that feels comfortable. If it doesn’t feel natural at first, start with them open with the intention to try to close them at some point. This can be especially helpful if your space is cluttered or otherwise distracting.
- Find a focus. Think about your five senses (sight, smell, taste, feel, sound), and choose one to focus on. This could be the clock ticking, birds chirping, music or the sound of your breath going in and out. It could also be a spot on the ground or the wall. It could be the feeling of your shirt against your body or your finger brushing against your carpet.
- Don’t get discouraged by your trains of thought. When your mind starts to drift (and it will), notice it. Then make your way back to your focus. It's also important to note that you don't have to remain still during your meditation. If swaying side to side slightly helps keep you focused, do that. If another rythmic movement calms you, do that.
- If "meditation" is an intimidating word or concept for you, call it something else. Mindfulness. Alone time. “Me” time. Quiet time. Whatever term suits you the best – go with it.
- Remember that meditation is a journey, not a destination. Your mind is going to wander – probably a lot at first. There are going to be some days that are easier than others, and there will be days that you can only focus for mere seconds at a time. Here’s the deal, though, trying is more than half the battle. If you can put in a couple minutes of mindful thinking and meditation a day, you’re doing yourself a world of good.
Health Benefits of Meditation
Aside from the stress-busting health benefits of regular meditation, there are many other ways meditation is good for your health. Research has shown that the below list of benefits are just some of the few that people experience when participating a regular meditation practice.
- Aids in reducing anxiety
- Improves sleep
- Reduces blood pressure
- Improves attention span
- Reduces age-related memory loss
- Pain control
- Aids in fighting addictions
- Increases positive feelings (toward yourself and others)
- Promotes emotional health
- Improves self-awareness
Whether you're new to meditation or are looking to increase your mindfulness, meditation practices can be done anytime, any place for as long or as short as you'd like. The more often you practice, the greater the health benefits.