Meditation: its benefits and how to meditate

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September 29, 2020

Meditation: its benefits and how to meditate

Benefits of meditation

Although relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often one of the results of meditation. In the 1970s, Dr. Herbert Benson, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, coined the term "relaxation response" after research with practitioners of transcendental meditation. The relaxation response, in Benson's words, is "a counteractive, involuntary response that reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system."

Since then, research on the relaxation response has found the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower heart rate
  • Reduced perspiration
  • Reduced respiratory rate
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Lower blood cortisol level
  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation

Researchers are analyzing whether the practice continues to produce long-term benefits and have had positive effects on the brain and immune system among meditators, but it should not be forgotten that the goal of meditation is not to make a profit. An Eastern philosopher would say that the goal of meditation is aimlessness. It is simply to be present.

In Buddhist philosophy, the main benefit of meditation is to free the mind from attachment to things that cannot be controlled, such as external circumstances or intense emotions. The liberated or "enlightened" practitioner ceases to have unnecessary desires, stops clinging to experiences, and maintains a calm mind and great inner balance.

How to Meditate: Simple Meditation for Beginners

This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. You could even purchase a meditation bench.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Make no effort to control your breathing; just breathe naturally.
  • Focus your attention on the breath and how your body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Be aware of the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage and abdomen. Do not make any effort to control your breathing; simply focus your attention. If thoughts arise in your mind, simply bring your attention back to the breath. Do this meditation practice for 2-3 minutes in the beginning and then for longer periods.

Sometimes we lead somewhat crazy lives, the fast pace and demands of daily life often leave us stressed, overworked, tired and even unhappy. Meditation is an easy, effective and convenient technique to calm your hectic mind, relax the body, ground yourself and find inner peace amidst the chaos of everyday life.

I first practiced meditation when I was twelve years old with my high school drama teacher. At that age there was little to worry about, but I could still appreciate the benefits of meditation. I enjoyed quieting my thoughts, feeling present and enjoying the deep sense of relaxation and peace derived from meditation.Throughout my life I have continued to explore different approaches to meditation and have found that the benefits can be very profound.

People meditating for the first time often feel intimidated. They imagine a monk sitting in the lotus posture for hours on top of a mountain. The reality is that meditation is much easier and more accessible than most people realize.

Here are 10 simple steps to get you started in meditation:

  1. Sit with your back straight. The most comfortable and accessible posture for meditation is sitting. You can sit on the floor, a chair or a stool. If you sit on the floor it is usually most comfortable to put a cushion underneath and cross your legs. Comfort is essential. Now imagine a rope stretching from the top of your head stretching your back, neck and head towards the ceiling in a straight line.
  2. Relax your body. Close your eyes and feel your whole body, relaxing each part one by one. Start with your toes, feet, ankles, calves and continue up your whole body. Do not forget to relax the shoulders, neck, eyes, face, jaw and tongue, which are usually areas where tension accumulates.
  3. Remain still and silent. Now that you are seated and relaxed with your back straight, take a moment to remain still. Just sit still. Be aware of your surroundings, your body, the sounds you hear. Don't react or try to change anything. Just remain aware.
  4. Breathe. Concentrate your attention on your breathing. Breathe quietly and deeply, move your diaphragm and fill your lungs but do not force your breath. Feel the air enter your nose, throat, chest and abdomen as it moves in and out of your body.
  5. Repeat a mantra. A mantra is a sound, word or phrase that can be repeated throughout meditation. Mantras can have spiritual, vibrational and transformational benefits or can simply provide a point of focus during meditation. They can be recited aloud or silently. An easy and simple mantra for beginners is to repeat silently with each breath "I am inhaling, I am exhaling."
  6. Calm your mind. As you focus on your breath or mantra, your mind will begin to calm down and become present, but this does not mean that thoughts will stop appearing. When a thought comes, simply acknowledge it, let it pass and refocus your attention on your breath or mantra. Don't hold on to your thoughts. Some days your mind will be busy with a lot of internal dialogue, other days it will be calm and centered. Neither is good or bad. When to end the practice. There is no right length of time to practice meditation. However, in the beginning it is usually easier to meditate for short periods (5-10 minutes). As you become more comfortable with the practice, you can meditate longer. Set an alarm clock if you prefer to meditate for a predetermined amount of time, or decide on the number of breaths you will take before ending the practice. Using a mala (Buddhist rosary) is helpful for counting the number of breaths.
  7. How to end the practice. When you feel ready to end the practice, slowly bring your attention back to your surroundings. Acknowledge that you are present in the place. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Begin to move your hands, feet, arms and legs. Open your eyes. Move slowly and take your time to stand up.
  8. Practice frequently. Continuity is more important than quantity. Meditating 5 minutes every day will be more beneficial than meditating two hours one day a week.
  9. Practice anywhere. Most beginners find it easier to meditate quietly at home. However, as you become more comfortable, start exploring new places to practice. Meditating outdoors in nature can be very relaxing, and meditating on the bus or in the office chair can be excellent for reducing stress. Benefits of meditation
  10. Meditation is a simple. effective and convenient technique to quiet your mind, relax your body, connect with yourself and find inner peace in the midst of the chaos of everyday life.