Meditation can be a beneficial way to relax, focus, and reduce stress. If you’re new to meditation, you can start small and customize it to your needs. Working some meditation into your day, even if for only a few minutes, can make a real difference.
A study published recently in the American Psychological Journal found that practicing mindfulness through meditation on a daily basis can improve your psychological well-being. Like building strength in your body, strengthening your mind through meditation takes consistency.
Meditation is a fairly simple and straight forward practice. There are different kinds of meditation, but we’ll start with a basic, beginner meditation.
Get in Position
Start by taking a seat. You can sit on the floor, a cushion, couch, chair, or bench. Just be sure that you can find a stable place to sit for an extended period without interruption. If you are seated on the floor, cross your legs and sit up straight, with your knees level with your hips. If you are meditating while seated on a chair or couch, sit with both feet flat on the ground and your back straight.
Be sure that your spine is straight, but not too stiff. Allow your spine to have its natural curvature without hunching over. It can help to lean forward and then back in a rocking motion until you relax.
Place your arms parallel with your torso with your hands resting in a comfortable and natural position. Drop your chin slightly, lowing your gaze. Allow your eyes to close. Do what you can to be comfortable and keep your body feeling loose and relax.
A large part of meditation is mindfulness. Focus your mind on any points of contact—how does it feel to have your feet touching the floor? Or your hands resting at your sides? Notice the contact your legs may have with the floor. Acknowledge each of these points and practice gratitude for your body and its abilities.
Draw your attention to your breathing. Breath in deeply and out slowly—be sure that you are breathing out fully and completely. Let your thoughts flow. As the come and go, acknowledge them and let them go. Your mind may be blank, or you may find that you are easily distracted and restless—that’s okay! It may take some practice to fully benefit from meditation. Just practice stillness, there is no achieving and no doing it wrong. If it’s helpful to you, just focus on your breathing.
When you are finished focusing on your breathing and allowing your thoughts to flow, bring your attention back to your seated position. Slowly open your eyes with one final deep breath in and out.
Well done! You just practiced meditation. Making time for this practice in your daily routine and you will see a difference over time. Whether you are trying to reduce stress, master a skill, overcome an addiction, or just add more mindfulness to your life, meditation can be a pathway to a more centered life.