The Basics Of Meditation, And Why You Might Want To Try It
Everyone has heard that meditation is good for them. But for those who have never meditated before, jumping in might be a little scary. Or maybe you think you need hours of silence and perfect stillness to meditate properly.
Not to worry – we’re here to debunk the myths of meditation, and help you get started.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a type of mindfulness practice, where you bring your full attention to being in the present moment.
Some forms of meditation are very specific and formal, such as those associated with particular religions. But many others are as simple as breathing deeply or noticing your thoughts.
Why is mindfulness and meditation good for me?
There are hundreds of studies into mindfulness and meditation, and the various benefits they can have for your health. But some of the highlights include:
- Reducing stress and side effects of high stress hormone levels
- Improving self-esteem
- Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Increasing concentration and focus
- Reducing food cravings, binge eating and emotional eating
- Improving sleep quality
Do I have to cross my legs and chant to meditate properly?
Not at all! The best part about meditation is that you can do it just about anywhere, with zero equipment required. All you need is some quiet and a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
My brain won’t stop racing – am I failing at meditation?
It’s completely normal to have an abundance of thoughts in your head, especially if you’re new to meditation.
Instead of forcing yourself to stop thinking, you can let your thoughts flow. But the trick is to not get involved with the thoughts. Picture yourself as someone else who is sitting back and observing those thoughts flowing through the mind.
Easy ways to start meditating
Ready to give meditation a go? Anyone can meditate – you can even get your kids involved if you’d like. Here are three ways to introduce meditation into your life.
Start off with deep breathing
The simplest way to meditate is to breathe deeply, and focus on your breath. You can start off by taking 3 long, deep breaths, and then continue to focus on the breath for however long you have set aside.
Every time you start thinking about something else, simply bring your attention back to breathing. You might like to focus on the air flowing in and out through the nose or mouth. Or you can focus on the feeling of the breath going deep into the chest.
Download a guided meditation app
If you’re worried about doing meditation ‘wrong’, then guided meditations are your new best friend. Thanks to technology, you can take guided meditations with you wherever you go on a meditation app.
A guided meditation will walk you through a visualisation process or meditation technique. The speaker will usually remind you that it’s perfectly normal to still have racing thoughts or feel like you’re not achieving your goal with the meditation. It’s like having a calm and soothing meditation cheerleader!
There are so many options out there for meditation apps on both Apple and Android phones. Many of them are free or low-cost. You might like to try out popular apps like:
- Smiling Mind
- Insight Timer
The key with using a meditation app is to find one with a voice that doesn’t irritate you! After all, you can’t relax if the accent is grating on your nerves.
Head to a group meditation class
If you’re looking for greater support as you learn to meditate, look for a local meditation group. Meditation teachers will often host classes at the local community centres and yoga studios. Classes are usually quite affordable as well.
The upside of a group meditation session is that it’s easier to get into the flow of meditating. It often feels like the ‘energy’ of the others around you can help you slip into a meditative state, even if you weren’t feeling it beforehand.
Now that you know a little bit more about meditating, all we can say is give it a go! If you do decide to start meditating, give it a go for a good 2 weeks. It can feel frustrating at first, but so does every new hobby and experience. There is nothing to lose except a few minutes of your day.
Written by our health content writer Samantha Gemmell.