Meditation is by far one of the hottest wellness trends. It’s no surprise, really. We need all the tools we can get to help us to slow down, de-stress and recharge.
What makes meditation different than so many health fads is that it is absolutely 100% accessible to everyone. There is no cost, no equipment, and special clothing. In addition, many researchers have already proven that meditation improves overall mental and physical wellbeing. Finally, meditation isn’t some new approach to wellness thought up by a zenned-out doctorate student or spiritual yuppie entrepreneur. Instead, it is a practice founded in many ancient spiritual traditions. It has survived through the ages because its effective!
Meditation’s Impact on Wellness
The message about meditation is definitely getting out. Thanks to the Internet, most of us have already heard the many benefits of meditation. From a calmer mind and improved mood, to a stronger immune system and slower cognitive decline, meditation can have a profound impact on your wellbeing.
There are other methods to help treat mental illness naturally, such TMS treatments for depression that stimulates the brain with magnetic pulses, as well as using an emotional support animal for PTSD and anxiety. Just like meditation, these alternative methods are growing in popularity because they lack the horrid side-effects common with psychotropic drugs.
Again, when comparing to other natural treatments, meditation is ultimately most accessible to all. It could even be used together with other natural treatments, as there are no chemical interactions to worry about.
Why Do Only Few Commit to Meditation if It’s so Great?
If you live in an ashram or go to a yoga studio every day, you may see lots of people sitting in stillness before and after gatherings. But outside of these circles, people rarely meditate on a regular basis. Why is that?
It’s typical that we put up obstacles when it means changing up our lifestyle habits. This makes sense: For most of us, life is busy and already feels full. Reversely, consider that if one was to dedicate just 10-20 minutes aside for meditation, it’s possible that everything else in life would start to flow just a little easier.
Sometimes, especially as Westerners, we need a little push to help us establish a new habit. Below are some ideas that may help you commit to a regular meditation practice.
Dedicate a Space for Meditation
Until you’re an expert at bringing your body and mind into stillness, it’s best to meditate with as few distractions as possible. The first step, then, is to find a place within you home where there aren’t many distractions. This may mean just a corner of your bedroom, where you won’t see the laundry or dishes that need to get done.
Some people like to decorate their mediation space, but really this isn’t necessary unless you feel it will make it more inviting for you. Definitely there’s no need to redecorate or go on a shopping spree. Instead, consider adding some natural elements. These could include plants, crystals, cones and seeds, driftwood, river rocks, shells, etc.
Plants bring an incredible sense of calm. Beyond the proven psychological and healing benefits, they help foster an awareness and appreciation for what is beautiful and natural. ~ states Nicolas Bartoli, Co-founder of premium indoor plant startup Leon and George
Get the Clutter Out
As you make up your mind on where you’ll be spending your time in meditation, it may be good to notice if any objects clutter up your space. Since most of us will be using a corner of a bedroom, office or living room, having less clutter will lessen distractions. In addition, having less clutter around you help the energy to flow freely around your space.
Once the clutter is out, make sure you have a firm cushion to sit on. A rolled or folded blanket will do. And if sitting on the floor doesn’t work for you, then use a chair.
Now, I know meditation pillows, chime bowls and candles are fun and cute. But keep in mind, trendy décor in your meditation space is not a requirements. Inversely, these items may create more clutter. Instead, bring in something meaningful into your nook. A photo, a special book, a necklace or pendant…something that will help you connect to what’s important. A point of focus with nothing to clutter it.
Commit to a Regular Time
If your life revolves around a schedule, then adding in 10 minutes can be tricky. Often it means waking up a little early or putting something else off. Regardless, you may find it easy to dedicate yourself to meditation at the same time each day.
If you’re days are a bit more scattered or hectic, they you definitely need to commit to a regular meditation time. If you don’t, it will start to become anther thing that you’re overwhelmed about because there’s no plan when it will get done.
Experts typically recommend morning meditation because that’s when the mind is calm and there are fewer distractions. Laura Maciuika, clinical psychologist and author of Conscious Calm, recommends:
Before breakfast is generally a good time to meditate. But for beginners, especially folks who are feeling stressed out, meditating at all can be daunting. In that case, I recommend simply putting your attention on slower, deeper breathing—even for just five minutes—early in the day before getting busy with anything.
Don’t Overdo It at the Start
It’s easy to get overly eager, especially in our competitive and ambitious culture. Yet, realistically, if you’re just starting with meditation, it may be challenging to commit to 30 minutes or more a day. For most of us, sitting in stillness trying not to think for 10 minutes feels like an eternity. This is common until you start reigning in the mind. So start small and allow yourself time to get in the flow with a shorter time commitment. Even 5 minutes is better than none.
Treat Your Physical Body Well
Bernie Clack, author of The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The Philosophy and Practice of Yin Yoga , states:
If you can’t keep our physical body still, how can you expect the mind to be still.
You’d be surprised how many people have a difficult time just keeping their physical body still for 10 minutes. We get distracted by aches, spasms, cramps, itches, etc. Maybe when someone is zoned out into a movie, stillness isn’t a problem. But when there are no outside distractions for the mind, the body itself becomes very distracting.
This is why preparing your body for meditation can help. You must treat the body well by eating healthy, exercising and stretching. Of course, gentle exercises will work just fine, such as a yin or restorative yoga practice.
Use Proven Tricks to Help You Zen Out
Creating zen in the mind is not an easy task. That may be why so many people start a meditation practice, but often quit. The mind typically does not want to give up control. Therefore, we have to use tricks, such as breath work and mantra, to distract the mind.
On the positive side, these “tricks” are also ancient practices. Plus, they also help promote better health. For example, the breath work in meditation allows the nervous system to transition into mode for healing and restoration. Secondly, matras are essentially positive affirmations that you repeat to yourself.
It may feel right for you to come up with your own personal mantra, perhaps based on this new year’s intention. But if you need some ideas to get started, below are four Buddhist Sanskrit mantras, courtesy of Japa Mala Beads.
To really benefit from meditation, it takes dedication and a promise to yourself. For example, you can use japa mala beads to make that dedication of repeating your mantra 108 times daily.
We know that if you meditate only once a week, life may seem unchanged. On the other hand, 10 minutes a day for one month can be a very favorable experience with positive results.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.