It is well known that the practice of meditation can lead to a better quality of life. However, many people don’t practice it due to the misconception that meditation takes years of study and practice, and that the goal is to empty the mind of thoughts, which can be extremely challenging for most of us.
Truth is, there is an easier way to meditate that is just as effective. The trick is not to fight your thoughts or trying to expel them completely from your mind, but to let them come and go, without judgment or criticism, without labels and emotions, and without allowing them to stay or get a hold of your mind… just observe them as they pop into your mind and let them go as you re-focus your attention on your breathing.
Yes, it takes practice to quiet the mind in this fashion; however, it is very possible, it can be done relatively fast and it is certainly much easier than becoming a Tibetan monk! 😉
Personally, I can tell you that practicing meditation has been wonderful for me. Besides helping me be more relaxed and centered on a regular basis, I have become more aware of my actions and reactions to life events and circumstances. This has helped me be more accepting of ‘what is‘ which has brought more peace to my daily life.
It is for this reason that I consider the practice of meditation a crucial part of personal development. First, I’ll share with you some facts and the basic benefits of this practice. Next, I’ll disclose the biggest challenge that prevents most people from starting -and sticking to- a meditation practice.
I’ll also give you a couple of suggestions to help yourself overcome this challenge if you recognize it in yourself.
And finally, I’ll also reveal how to start practicing meditation with ease so you too can experience these benefits in your life. Ready?
Let’s start by describing the health benefits of meditation. In time and with frequent practice, you’ll eventually reach a state of peace that seems to linger throughout the day. As a result, your heart rate and breathing pattern slow down, which in turn gets the oxygen you breathe more evenly distributed throughout your body. In turn, your muscles don’t feel tight anymore, your blood pressure levels improve, the production of cortisol (stress hormone) in the adrenal gland diminishes, and your mind gets clearer allowing for creativity and other abilities to flourish. Moreover, your immune system response improves so you get sick less often as your digestion improves. Also, you get a more positive outlook on life in general which helps you keep a positive attitude throughout the day. And, you get this all by just practicing 15 to 20 minutes per day!
As these changes take place, your body starts repairing itself. This reduces physical, mental and emotional stress which enhances your life experience as a whole. This reason alone supports the daily practice of meditation; it should be a part of your daily life; just as important as eating and sleeping.
With all these benefits… how come most people do not practice meditation? It is due to this ‘challenge’ I was referring to earlier. Can you guess what it is?
Most of us lead busy lives. We have jobs, families, friends, events, deadlines, appointments, responsibilities, and so much more. It can be difficult to leave aside our daily obligations, concerns and on-going inner chatter even if for a few moments, and that is the biggest challenge of them all because if you don’t consciously decide to set aside 15 to 20 minutes a day to practice meditation, there is no program, book or training that will help. However, once you commit to doing so, the rest is much simpler.
You must know that you don’t need a class or a teacher to learn meditation. You can learn this practice easily over a short period of time, by yourself, in your spare time. All you need is an effective and simple program, plus your commitment and a bit of practice. An important factor is to be patient with yourself. There is no rush because the end result will be worth it. Once you accept that it will take you some time and practice to master meditation, your mind relaxes and it becomes easier.
While there are a variety of meditation techniques, they are all based on the same principles. Here are the recommended guidelines to start this practice.
- Get some quiet time
It may look like a challenge, especially if you have a busy lifestyle and/or young children. A good way to start is by taking a look at your daily routine and look for a time span of 15 to 20 minutes that you can dedicate to yourself. Make it part of your daily routine and stick to it.
- Choose a quiet place
This may be another challenge if you live in a busy city. For some, the early morning hours may work. For others, night time is better after the kids are asleep and the TV is off. Find some quiet place where you can be by yourself and with no interruptions for a few minutes.
- Learn to quiet your mind
Easier said than done, but very doable. It becomes easier with time. Here is a trick that works: choose a small object –like a pendant- to focus on. Look at its shape, color, size, etc. Just focus on the object and let everything else go. Once you master this, it’ll be easier to close your eyes and relax your mind.Another method that works is to become the ‘observer of your thoughts.’ Just observe them and don’t get engaged in them. Do this every time you notice your thoughts creeping in. Do not fight them or become opinionated. Just watch the narrative going on in your mind as if you were watching a soap opera. Then, let go of the thoughts one by one as they appear.
- Choose a comfortable position to meditate in
The sitting position called lotus is a common posture to meditate in. You sit on the floor with your legs crossed and place the right foot on top of your left tight and your left foot on top of your right tight. This position may be uncomfortable for beginners, so just sitting up with your spine stable and straight will work. Lying down is not recommended as you may fall asleep.
- Focus in the “NOW” moment
Focus on the present moment and let everything go. This is not the time to think how to solve a problem with your obnoxious coworker, how to motivate the kids to do their chores, or how to best tackle your long to-do list for tomorrow. Give attention to this moment. Contemplate your “HERE.” This is your NOW. That is the only thing that IS. The rest is either in the past or in the future. Concentrate in your present -NOW.
As you practice meditation you will start experiencing wonderful results in your life. I suggest you include it in your daily routine as an integral part of your personal development plan.
Your energy levels and your ability to focus will soar. Your overall well-being will improve. Don’t despair if at first you don’t see any major changes. The important thing is to keep at it.
You will know you are making progress when you allow yourself to simply be, when you notice you are not judging your every thought and your mind quiets down instead of jumping from one thought to another. You will notice you are being aware of the present moment as you feel at peace throughout your day.
Your thoughts and emotions take a back seat.
There is a sense of inner freedom and peace, as you are just living this moment NOW…
The following video shows you the basic meditation posture and technique…
give it a try and experience transformation through meditation!
How to Meditate
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