Being comfortable with silence takes practice, but when you learn to give in to the quiet and be fully present in the moment, the benefits to the mind and body are plentiful. Meditation is an effective way to help you slow down your thoughts and calm your mind.
“Let it Be”
If you find yourself caught in a cycling loop of thoughts, adopting the practice of meditation can help you determine which thoughts that occupy your mind are worthy of your attention. While techniques can vary, in general, mindful meditation involves focusing on 'anchors' such as breath, sounds, sensations in the body, or visual objects to improve concentration and awareness. By not giving in to distractions, you can create the space in your mind to become aware of your stream of thoughts and emotions. The key is to acknowledge these thoughts, and let them simply go back to where they came from.
Those who meditate on a regular basis can experience increased feelings of calm and relaxation as well as improved focus and concentration. This enhanced sense of well-being positively impacts self-esteem and self-awareness. Over time, meditation has benefits for both physical and mental health. It can reduce stress and anxiety, play a role in improving sleep and help manage depression.
“Every Breath You Take”
Anyone can meditate! The key for beginners is to get into a routine, however, it does take practice and consistency to reap the benefits. The good news is that mindfulness meditation doesn't require props or preparation, all you need is 5 to 10 minutes of free time (to start), and a judgment-free mindset.
Here are a few steps to help you get started:
- Sit or lie down comfortably using a cushion, blanket or chair and find the position where your body feels most relaxed. It's also helpful to wear comfortable clothing.
- Decide how long you want your practice to be and set a quiet, gentle timer to help you focus on meditating rather than keeping track of time.
- Turn your attention to your breathing, and the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Use this as your anchor. Or, if you prefer, start by focusing on each part of the body, scanning from your toes to your head, pausing along the way to notice the sensations.
- As you continue to breathe in and out, note any physical tension and release it. When thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge them and let them go without judgement, returning your focus to the present and your breath.
- Allow for a few extra minutes to get up gradually after your practice. Before you transition back into your day, enjoy the sense of renewal and take a moment for gratitude.
Set your intentions and keep your motivations in mind as you continue to meditate. When you begin to notice the benefits and the progress you are making, you will be more likely to stay committed long term. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to meditate - just keep practicing.