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Growing competition and comparison in the environment has brought distress to an all time high, and people are dealing with poor mental health, now more than ever. Terms like ‘fitness’, ‘health’ and ‘spirituality’ have been trending for quite a while now but very little is known about these terms and by very few. Fitness is often associated with gym and workouts for example, while health is often seen as one's physical wellness. Being healthy itself has become the root cause of stress in many people. Sometimes we just need to stop and take a deep breath. One of the most commonly suggested methods to combat mental health issues and stress is meditation.
The term meditation is often feared and avoided by people, especially youngsters, because of the general misconception about it being over complicated and hard to practise. However, meditation is easy and really stress relieving and can be perfected over time with practice. The purpose of meditation is to dive deeper into our conscious awareness and to learn how to focus and improve our attention and concentration abilities. It has numerous benefits that shall be discussed further in this piece, but first let us take you through the basic steps of meditation for beginners.
How to Meditate (For Beginners)
Meditation is easy. Start by believing so. Step 1: Find a quiet spot, where you will not be disturbed for as long as you plan to meditate and sit down. You can sit with your legs crossed, or kneeling down. You can also sit in padmasana or vajrasana. Sit down as comfortably as you can because you are required to stay in this position for as long as you wish to meditate.
Step 2 : Set a timer. As a beginner, we recommend starting small. Just 5 to 10 minutes of dedication is a good start to your meditation journey.
Step 3 : Take a deep breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. Focus your attention on this process. Your conscious mind should be focusing on your breath.
As a beginner, your mind will wander off after a few breaths. Your job is to bring it back to focusing on your breath, as soon as you realise that it has wandered off. Be kind, don't be harsh on yourself when your mind loses its focus.
Step 4 : When you're done, slowly open your eyes (if they were closed) or lift your gaze and start noticing your surroundings. Start observing everything around you.
And that's it. You've successfully completed your first meditation session. Your job is to focus your mind on your breathing and when it wanders off, you're supposed to bring it back towards your breath. That's it, that is the practice.
With regular practice and dedication, your concentration window shall improve and you'll start to notice how your mind takes longer to wander off to another thought while meditating.
Our Tips :
- Start with a small time limit. Just five minutes is okay. Longer time durations are harder to commit to in the start. Once you start achieving results, you can increase the time period gradually.
- When you're just beginning to meditate, we recommend you to sit in the most comfortable position that you can. Your mind should focus on the breath work and not on what's causing discomfort to your body because of your posture or seating position.
- Be extremely gentle on yourself. Meditation is a very easy practice, but still hard to master because our mind is spontaneous, it cannot focus on one thing for long durations easily. Therefore your mind switching to a different thought is normal and expected.
- As you begin to get a hang of meditation, slowly increase your limit. Amishi Jha - a neuroscientist states in her research paper that 12 minutes of meditation, 5 days a week can protect and strengthen your ability to pay attention.
- Put meditation reminders around you. The most important moment in your meditation practice is the moment you sit down to do it, and our aim is to do it at least once every single day. Therefore, find a way to remind yourself to meditate.
Types of Meditation :
What we explained above is the most basic style of meditation that can be used by beginners to get into the practice of mindfulness. There are quite a few types of meditation however, some of which are listed down below -
- Mindfulness Meditation - the type that we just discussed. In this type of meditation, we aim at concentrating our mind to one particular point and bringing it back to that point when it wanders off.
- Metta meditation - The aim of this type of meditation is to instil the values of love and kindness towards all in existence. In this type, the meditator is required to theing loving, kind thoughts and project it towards their loved ones in their mind. By doing so, they are also attracting infinite love towards their own selves.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation - As the name suggests, this type of meditation is aimed at relaxing one's body. Usually starting with concentrating your mind on relaxing your toes and slowly moving upwards from there, relaxing each body part one by one till you reach the head. This can also be started the other way, by relaxing the head first and then moving downwards.
- Mantra Meditation - this is the most common type of meditation practised in India where an individual takes one affirmation and keeps chanting it throughout the course of their meditation. This chanting can be done silently in one's head or out loud, depending on one's preference.
Reasons to Meditate -
- Regulate Negative Emotions - Meditation helps reduce stress and combat negative emotions. It gives us a new perspective towards stressful situations and how to deal with them.
- Improve Focus & Memory - Our mind works on autopilot 95% of the time, that is, our actions are often results of our inner beliefs and old experiences. Therefore, when we opt for mindfulness and meditation, we activate the grey matter of our brain, which is not yet conditioned with old beliefs and therefore, helps us form new neural networks that thus help us in improving our focus and memory.
- Reduce Impulsive Decisions and Emotional Reactions - As stated before, meditation helps us gain a new perspective towards the issues in our lives, giving us a better idea on how to tackle them. This reduces our impulsive, unconscious decision making and also our need to react emotionally to situations.
- Increase Relationship Satisfaction - Practising love and kindness in our life highly benefits our social relationships, making our relations happier and content.
- Increasing Self-Awareness - Calming down your brain leads us to think better and understand our own selves better. We understand our own patterns which gives us the opportunity to break unhealthy habits and make better life decisions.
- Focusing on the Present - the main aim of mindfulness meditation is to bring your focus back to the present. Our mind is known to think the same thoughts on repeat everyday, some of the past, some contemplating the future. The main aim of meditation is to bring us back to the present reality.
- Increasing Imagination and Creativity - Forming new neural pathways gives us the ability to develop new skills, and improve our imagination and creativity.
- Increasing Patience and Tolerance - Not unknown to mankind that lesser negative emotions lead to more patience and higher tolerance level.
- Lowering resting Heart Rate and Blood Pressure - with a drop in negative emotions and stress, the heart rate and BP can also be regulated.
- Improving Sleep Quality.
Meditation, a small exercise, can lead to innumerable benefits that can positively affect every aspect of human life. Unfortunately that's all that we have time for today. We'll be back, once again to motivate you towards becoming a healthier version of yourself. Till then, keep taking deep breaths vats.