- Mental Health
How to Meditate at Home
Having a strong immune system is one of the most important ways to safeguard your health and your life. Too much stress can lead to a weaker immune system. I have made many positive changes in my life to improve my health, such as better nutrition, more exercise, and changing my personal care and household-cleaning products to chemical-free alternatives. However, after all this, I realized that I had done absolutely nothing to reduce the stress in my life. Since I could not simply wipe away the stress imposed by finances, children, and maintaining a relationship, I needed to find a way to reduce it. After a lot of research I turned to focused meditation.
I had avoided meditation for so long because I didn't know how to get started. I considered finding a meditation class, but a good one is expensive, so that would just add even more financial stress. I also considered buying an instructional DVD or CD, but I didn't know which one would work for me, and I wasn't willing to invest the days and weeks of trial and error. Fortunately, after a lot of research I discovered focused meditation, which was perfect for me because it doesn't require training and can be done at home without purchasing any equipment. Most importantly, it was very easy to add to my daily routine without affecting my busy schedule.
What is Focused Meditation?
Focused meditation allows a person to relax by focusing on one object while removing and ignoring all other thoughts. The object can be absolutely anything that involves any of the five senses. It can be a beautiful picture, the smell of chocolate chip cookies, the sound of birds chirping or the feeling of a silk shirt. Whatever you choose, it is important to avoid analyzing it in detail, because that will lead back to racing thoughts and possible stress and defeat the purpose of the exercise. Focused meditation requires little time, and can be done for as little as five minutes.You can increase the time to thirty minutes as you become more experienced.
Benefits of Focused Meditation
The benefits of focused meditation are numerous. With an investment of as little as five minutes you can derive these benefits:
- Improved immune function
- Improved creativity
- Calmer reactions to frustrating situations
- Increased blood flow and reduced heart rate
- Reduced frequency of anxiety attacks
- Improved breathing because of increased flow of air to the lungs
- Increased levels of serotonin (a "happy hormone") providing an emotional boost
- Improved quality of sleep
An Example of Focused Meditation
Techniques for Focused Meditation
Focused meditation can be done easily without any prior experience whatsoever. Follow these steps and you will descend into a blissful, peaceful state within minutes.
- Decide what to focus on. Pick something readily at hand, and which pleasurably absorbs your senses. I prefer a CD with the sound of waves on a beach or the smell of incense. Both of these options allow me to close my eyes, helping me focus my thoughts more clearly.
- Find a place to meditate away from all distractions such as husbands, pets, and children. Make sure it is somewhere you feel peaceful and calm, and especially not a place that fills you with anxiety. A messy room that you feel should be cleaned or a basement that fills you with thoughts of remodeling are not good options. Create a nice environment in your chosen location by turning out the lights and finding some soft pillows to sit or lie on.
- Focus on the object you have chosen and appreciate it without analyzing it. I like the sound of the ocean because I can tune everything else out and just surrender, feeling like my whole body is being bathed in the ocean.
- When your mind begins to wander and thoughts of things you have to accomplish (such as what to cook for dinner) try to enter your mind, breathe slowly and force yourself to focus on your object.
- Start with just five minutes at a time and gradually increase to twenty minutes as your technique improves. Consistency and practice will make it easier, so don't give up if you aren't able to stay focused for the full five minutes. You will improve over time.
How often do you meditate?
My Personal Experience
Because my mind seems to be racing with thoughts day and night I thought I would be completely incapable of any type of relaxation, even focused meditation. It turned out to be much easier than I expected, although it took practice to improve my technique. First, I looked on iTunes for the sounds of the ocean. The first one I found was supposed to be used for newborn babies. I am not sure what kind of babies would like to hear this grating sound of water crashing hard against rocks - it was anything but calming! However, I kept trying until I finally found one that had the peaceful sounds of the ocean and included the sounds of birds. It had the word 'soothing' in the title so it had to be good, right? This one actually was very relaxing, so I downloaded it to my iPod.
Although I was alone in the house I had to escape from the stack of dishes in the sink in the kitchen. I also couldn't deal with the homework papers left in the family room by my children or the pile of bills in my office. But the bedroom was clean, the bed made, and I felt safe there. So I turned the lights out and laid down on the bed. I decided to make my first goal just 5 minutes, so I looked at the clock, turned on my iPod, and closed my eyes. Within seconds I was wondering if my older son played too many video games. I then shifted back to the sounds of the ocean and cleared my mind. I became distracted several more times, but with a little effort always turned my attention back to the peaceful sounds of the ocean. It proved very relaxing, but after 5 minutes I just couldn't stay focused any more.
I did this every day for a few weeks, and worked up to 10 minutes. I still get slightly distracted, but every time it is a little better. I am now ready to try 15 minutes. Even 5 minutes helped, and after my sessions, the rest of the day seemed a little calmer. As my time increases, the overall stress in my life somehow seems more manageable, and I can't help but believe my body is healthier.
Most of us have busy lives but it is always possible to find just a few minutes a day to do something for yourself. Focused meditation is free and takes little time and effort so give it a try. This is one more small change that can lead to big results. Cheers to good health!!