With the mounting scientific evidence showing us the benefits of meditation, it’s no wonder that so many people are becoming interested in trying it…including me! If you’re like me and don’t know where to start…my daughter Britta is here to give us a simple lesson on the basics so we can all start experiencing the benefits of meditation!
Britta writes……… What does it mean to meditate? There is a pervasive misconception that meditation means clearing your mind completely – that is, sitting there silently, while nothing at all crosses your mind. And I think I can speak for everyone when I say that is just IMPOSSIBLE! :-) We’re all busy people with a lot on our minds, so shutting down your thoughts completely just isn’t going to happen for a lot of us. But the good news is that meditation ISN’T supposed to be about shutting down or tuning out – meditation is about tuning IN!
The practice of meditation basically amounts to sitting in quiet reflection for a period of time. This time allows you the chance to tune in to what’s going on inside you, to explore your own heart, body, and mind. You also get a chance to tune in to your surroundings, developing a greater sense of awareness. This greater sense of awareness, both internal and external, will help you focus on your goals, be more perceptive about your relationships, treat others with more compassion, and increase your feelings of gratitude in your everyday life. In his book Mediation Made Easy (a great read, by the way!) Dr. Lorin Roche describes this process as “the practice of developing your capacity for rich experience.”
And if you’re still feeling skeptical, consider that scientific studies have demonstrated numerous benefits associated with practicing meditation, including boosts in physical health, happiness, self-control, and productivity. (To read more about the scientific benefits of meditation, click here.)
These effects are what makes meditation such a popular practice among top entrepreneurs, athletes, and celebrities, including Oprah, Arianna Huffington, Russell Simmons, Sir Paul McCartney, Kobe Bryant, Ellen Degeneres, and MANY more! Regardless of whether or not you look up to these people, their success and achievements are undeniable, and all of them have cited meditation as a contributing factor to their success and wellbeing.
Now that we know what meditation is and what we can get out of it, let’s move onto the burning question… how do I meditate?
Here’s a little secret about meditation… there’s no wrong way to do it! The location and duration of your meditation are entirely up to you. Sitting cross-legged in the grass for 10 minutes? Sitting in your car during your lunch break for 5 minutes? In your favorite armchair in the living room for 20 minutes? These are all equally wonderful ways to meditate. Listen to your own instincts, as if you’re choosing music to listen to or food to eat.
Once you’ve chosen where you will meditate, all that’s left to do is to just do it. In the beginning, your main goal should be to resist trying to “control” your meditation, and to just be okay with sitting silently with yourself. Approach your meditation with an attitude of self-acceptance, and allow yourself to be comfortable and your mind to wander wherever it wants to go.
Don’t worry if you can’t do it at first, it’s a hard thing to do for a lot of people. So just keep trying each time you meditate, and eventually you will let go of the urge to control yourself.
Once you reach that point, you can also choose to do some meditative exercises during your meditations. Meditative exercises include things like focusing on your different senses (touch, smell, taste, etc.), focusing on your breathing, or listening to your heart. Just keep in mind that your thoughts may wander during any given exercise, and that’s okay. Follow the wandering thought, then return to the exercise whenever you’re ready.
In addition to your regular meditation sessions, there are many everyday situations where you can have additional meditative experiences. Listening to music, reading a book, drinking a cup of tea, doing yoga, and even gardening are all opportunities for you to focus your attention on the pleasurable and quiet details of that experience. You may even notice these everyday experiences becoming richer and more enjoyable!
It takes only a few minutes a day, and once you get in the groove, meditation may just become the best part of your day! :-)
Have you tried meditating?