All of us experience periods of ups and downs, which tend to be compounded by the demands of modern living. Stress has become the norm rather than the exception for many of us, and its long-term effects can be detrimental to our physical and mental health. Finding ways to manage stress more effectively is important in order to avoid becoming overly anxious, depressed, or contracting a physical ailment.
Meditation has been shown to hold significant potential in helping to reduce stress and increase a person’s sense of equanimity and well-being. Meditating on a regular basis can be advantageous for beginners and long-term practitioners alike. Regular practice is important, however, to maximize the benefits.
Anyone can meditate. Pick a spot where you can be undisturbed for a predetermined amount of time and turn off your phone. If you have never meditated, start with just 10 minutes a day; later, you can gradually increase your time to 20 or 30 minutes, if you like. Consistency is key, so try to find a time that will work for you every day.
Many people like to start off the day by meditating. As meditation tends to have a grounding effect and helps to calm the mind, it can set the tone for the whole day when practiced first thing in the morning. If the evening works better, however, this can be a great way to unwind after a long day at work.
A few tips for meditating:
Meditation is a great tool to help us to deal more effectively with the pressures we face in a fast-paced world. If you remain open to its possibilities, practicing on a regular basis can lead to a healthier and happier life.
- Get in a comfortable seated position. You can sit in a straight-backed chair or on a cushion on the floor. If sitting on a chair, keep your back straight and both feet flat on the floor. If you opt to sit on a cushion on the floor, sit with your back straight and legs crossed or adopt a lotus or half-lotus position (if either is comfortable for you).
- Focus on your breath. Bring your awareness to the air entering your nostrils and going into your lungs during the inhale, then on the air emptying from your lungs and going out of your nostrils during the exhale. Counting each inhale can help you to stay more focused. Try counting until you reach 10, then start over. If you find your mind has wandered, bring your awareness back to the breath and start counting again.
- Allow your thoughts to come and go. Try to avoid getting caught up in your “normal” thinking process. Imagine that your mind is like the clear blue sky and your thoughts are clouds crossing overhead. As you become more accustomed to doing this, you may find yourself getting less attached to your thoughts and the story line you usually associate with your notion of who you are.
Some of the many benefits associated with meditating on a regular basis include:
- Stress reduction
- Increased ability to concentrate
- Increased self-esteem
- Greater self-acceptance
- Increased happiness and peace of mind
- Reduced levels of depression and anxiety
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased self-awareness
- Stronger immune system
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Better sleep
Meditation is a great tool to help us to deal more effectively with the pressures we face in a fast-paced world. If you remain open to its possibilities, practicing on a regular basis can lead to a healthier and happier life. For guidance in setting up a meditation practice, reach out to a therapist who is experienced with mindfulness techniques.
Meditation: In depth. (2017, September 7). Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm
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