A regular meditation practice has been shown time and time again in the scientific literature to promote a whole host of benefits across many psychological measures of well-being, including but not limited to memory, mood control, focus, confidence, and assertiveness. But how exactly does one meditate? Here’s a helpful guide in simple terms.
What Exactly is Meditation?
Meditation is defined as the practice of focusing mental attention on the breath, rather than on external stimuli.
How Do You Meditate Properly?
The main process you need to master to meditate properly is the breath. We have all experienced a moment of intense focus on the breath while daydreaming, fall asleep, or when we’re driving. This is what meditation is, focusing our attention on our breath.
You Can Meditate For Hours, Days or Even Weeks
There is no “sacred number” of time spent learning how to meditate that you must dedicate to the practice. You can spend hours, days or even weeks in meditation practice without changing your life, but it will require more than focusing on the breath. It will also require a metaphor around you that you find soothing and calming that enables you to sit back and focus on the breath.
No Matter Your Age, You Can Meditate
More and more people are meditating on their own, on weekends, podcasts, etc. On many levels, the benefits of the practice are the same for everyone. The key ingredients are evident to anyone. All it takes is focusing on the breath for five to fifteen minutes twice a day, incorporating a meaningful mantra to guide you along your journey, and taking a few minutes to meditate at a time during your day.
Keep your time spent meditating in context. It is not necessary to practice your meditation practice daily. Sit with your routine meditation practice, but then sprinkle it with other practice and focus eventually. Focus on making it a habit.
Do Take Breaks
Take at least five to fifteen minutes to meditate each day, whether it is during your commute, while working, relaxing in your living room or any other time you can set aside and focus. Don’t set aside your whole day for meditation. Take one chunk of time each day and focus on the meditation, afterwards take another chunk of time and focus on your routine and duties. Regular meditation practice is an important part of a sound and healthy lifestyle, and by regularly practicing meditation you increase your rate of well-being and increase the amount of time you spend choosing how you spend your day. If you have a schedule, then make sure you are incorporating meditation into your routine.
What About Lack of Focus?
A weakness to practicing meditation is that it can be difficult to focus on your breath when the outside world is distracting. But when you meditate with a focus on the breath, that possibility is minimized and you become more able to bring that focus back in your life to focus on work, school or whatever it is that you need to accomplish on the day.
Benefits of Meditation
There are many reasons anyone in the world would benefit from improving their meditation practice.
Peace of mind
Meditation has been shown in scientific studies to improve your mental abilities, including standard memory and focus tasks, stress management, and emotional regulation. It’s our fears, our moods, our anxiousness that we waste so much of our energy through. By learning how to pinpoint our own emotions and then embracing what we can control with the tools of meditation, we become more able to tame the wild fluctuations in our anxious and emotional states, making them only the slightest blips in our minds.
Lower risk for more serious chronic diseases
A recent study found that regular meditation practice may decrease the risk of panic attacks and even depression in the long term.
Higher quality of life
In 2012, a survey was done with 5,384 people across 23 countries about things they realized were difficult to do, and 11 percent of the respondents said that one reason they were not able to do something was that they could not focus. When you learn how to focus your attention to the breath, you become more able to focus on those things that you feel are not as easy.
Greater happiness and quality of life
When you learn how to observe at the arising and passing of the breath, you become more able to recognize when you feel stress or when you are happy and content. And when you can recognize when you are making effort or when you are not, you become more resilient and build happier in life.
More time to be kindness
In a 2014 study, it was shown that regular meditation practice made people more positively disposed toward other people, and that these good dispositions were particularly stronger for those with more positive self-esteem.
Be a better workplace leader
Among the many reasons meditation is a highly recommended skill for employees, workers who meditate are more at ease with their mental process and better able to keep their composure under pressure. This also means they are more likely to outperform others when it comes to their well-being.
A recent study found that people who practiced meditation were happy and fulfilled more in the long run than those who did not practice meditation, and no attempts of abuse or any kind of unwanted attentions were forthcoming from the participants who meditated.