Meditation can help help with stress, anxiety, irritability and even blood pressure and other physical problems.
It’s likely you’ve heard of meditation before. You may have even tried it once or twice and decided “it’s not for me” or “it’s too hard”, “I can’t sit for hours thinking about nothing!”
Only 2 Minutes Needed for Meditation
You don’t have to sit quietly for hours or be a pro at keeping your mind blank the entire time. All you need is 2 minutes a day (yes, just 2 minutes!) to sit quietly, focus on your breath, and relax.
Meditation takes practice. There are many different styles and techniques, including: guided or silent meditations, mantra meditations, 5 minute to 3 hour-long meditations, etc. But one thing all meditation styles have in common… stress reduction. It also helps to reduce over-thinking, develop deeper concentration, clarity, and emotional positivity.
Physical Benefits of Meditation
On a physical level, meditation can help lower high blood pressure, improve the immune system and energy, and increase serotonin, which affects mood and behavior. Engaging in a regular meditation practice helps you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, which carries over to other parts of your life. When you begin to know and understand your inner self and motivations, you act instead of REact in situations. Meditation helps transform the mind and in turn, can lead to a new understanding and appreciation of life itself!
Many of us who are new to meditation believe that the point of meditation is to be able to quiet the mind without becoming distracted. However, a more useful perspective is that mediation is about becoming aware when your mind has drifted, and bringing your attention back to your point of focus without becoming self critical.
7 Meditation Tips for Beginners
- Find just 2 minutes a day! You can increase the amount over time, but starting small is perfect.
- Find a comfortable quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Sit or lay down (doesn’t matter as long as you’re comfy!) and let your palms face upward.
- Become aware of your surroundings. What do you hear? What do you smell? What are you thinking about? How are you feeling? Anxious, sad, busy, tired, happy? Do you feel tension anywhere in your body?
- Focus on your breath. Take long, deep breathes from your belly. You can place your hand on your belly to feel it expand and retract. You can also count your breaths or pick a phrase (or mantra) every time you breathe in and out. For example, every time you breathe in you can count to five slowly or repeat in your head “I am joyful”. Repeat these full concentrated breaths at least 10 times and then let your breathing return to normal.
- Come back when your mind wanders. It is perfectly normal to have a wandering mind, especially in the first few minutes. Acknowledge your thoughts and then bring your focus back to your breathing. No judging! Just be grateful for the quiet time you’re creating for yourself.
- Focus on your body. Start with the top of your head, and work your way down to your toes (or
vice versa). Notice how your shoulders feel, your neck, chest, lower back – we store a lot of tension in these places. Feel everything. Get to know your body!
- Practice, practice, practice! It takes time to quiet the mind and be still. We live in a fast-paced world full of distractions and hardly make time to be with ourselves. Try not to get discouraged if you’re unable to quiet your mind the first few times you try meditation. At least you are taking time to just sit and be with yourself.
How to Get Started
Integrating a daily, or even weekly meditation practice into your routine can be life changing. Ongoing studies are showing the long-term benefits of meditation including: longer attention spans, reduced age-related memory loss, and reduction of addictions.
Guided meditations, meditation music, and Podcasts are very easy to find on YouTube, Spotify and any music platform. Using these tools is a great way to help you build a consistent practice.
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Leah Canale is Evolve Direct Primary Care full time Health & Wellness Consultant. Members are invited to use her services at no additional charge for the first 30 days.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of meditation or have any other questions, the folks at Evolve are happy to see you. Evolve Medical is located in Annapolis. You can schedule online or call/text 844-322-4222.