Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Its many benefits include reducing stress and anxiety, giving a sense of peace, helping you focus and maintain balance.
Meditation and mindfulness, for only a few minutes each day, can lead to feeling happier, more present and less frazzled. In its simplest form, meditation is training the mind to focus on a single thought, sound or image. Functionally the mind is able to focus on 7-8 things more easily than to focus on just one thing.
A few things to consider as you begin:
- Establish a Goal of Meditation: The goal of meditation is to focus and quiet your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm.
- Choose a Peaceful Environment: Meditation should be practiced somewhere calming and peaceful. This will enable you to focus on the task at hand without interruption from outside stimuli. Try to find a place where you will not be interrupted.
- Ensure Correct Posture for Effective Meditation: One of the first requisites for meditation is correct posture. The spine should be erect and the body comfortable. Below are some of the most common meditative postures. Hands can be placed either on the thighs or cradled in your lap. Your back should not be against a wall or chair to allow the lungs to fully expand during breathing.
- Practice Breathing Techniques: There are many breathing techniques to try so each meditation can be different and refreshing. Remember to fill the lungs with oxygen using the entire lungs - front, sides and back. Two technique options are:
- Relaxed breathing involves deep, even-paced breathing using the diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs. The purpose is to slow your breathing, take in more oxygen, and reduce the use of shoulder, neck and upper chest muscles while breathing so that you breathe more efficiently.
- Take a deep breath into the entire lungs for 4 counts, then hold your breath for 4 counts. Add more breath on top and hold for 4, then slowly exhale for 4 counts, pausing then releasing the remained of the breath for 4 counts.
- Relax and Enjoy!
Sources: Shape, May 2016 and The Mayo Clinic
About the Authors:
Vandana Kareer has been a Certified Yoga Instructor for over 13 years. During her intensive 6-month traditional Yoga training in South East Asia, she discovered a love for the power of Yoga (mind, body and spirit). Vandana’s passion and mission are to help others experience the power of Yoga through both traditional and westernized Yoga practices.
Vandana and Janet are employed at Hillsborough YMCA.