Meditation: An Ancient Solution to Modern Problems
Are You Stressed?
Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed, drowning under the pressure of an unrelenting to-do list? We all have been there. In today's world, modern technology has made it almost impossible to decompress. Your boss can always email you a new project. Your spouse can text you a grocery list. In this busy and flat out crazy world, we need ways to relax healthily. Meditation is the perfect solution.
People have practiced meditation for centuries. Originating in India, meditation was thought to give the practitioner insight into their soul, and Buddhists believe it leads to enlightenment. While those advantages may be debatable, the health benefits of meditation are proven!
- help reduce anxiety and stress
- keep the mind clear and sharp
- increase awareness and focus
- boost your mood!
What You'll Need
- a place to sit or lay down (preferably quiet)
- optional: a yoga mat
- optional: a pillow or cushion
How to Begin
Finding time to meditate can be the hardest part, so make sure you schedule a specific time to practice. Assuming you have done that or just have some spare time, find a quiet space to either sit or lie down. I like to sit. If you are lying down, make sure you are comfortable but not so much so that you will fall asleep. If you are sitting, find a comfortable position. I prefer the lotus position (image below).
Now that you are comfortable, close your eyes. Some people prefer to meditate with their eyes open, but I find it too easy to get distracted. Next, start breathing in through your nose, making sure to fill your entire lungs. Briefly pause after the inhale, and slowly exhale out through your mouth. Then, pause after the exhale and repeat.
That's it! The whole point of meditation is to be present. Feel your chest rise and your nostrils fill with air as you inhale. Notice the sensation of the breath as you exhale. You can do this for as long as you want. I recommend only a couple of minutes to start.
Sometimes your mind will wander. That's okay and very common. All you have to do is refocus your attention on the breath. Feel the inhale and exhale. I like to say "in" in my head as I inhale and "out" as I exhale. It's an excellent way to avoid distraction.
At first, you will find it hard to meditate for more than a couple of minutes. I recommend starting at 2-3 minutes and working your way up from there. 2-3 minutes may seem trivial, but it is extremely beneficial. At the beginning of habit formation, ingraining a routine is the most important part.
After about 10 days, you can start to increase duration. There is nothing special about that number. I just know from experience that your body can adjust in that time frame. (It's a nice, neat number too). Every 10 days, you can add 2 minutes to your practice. At this rate, you can build a significant meditation practice.
I think 15-20 minutes is the perfect amount. It is long enough for you to get the benefits, but not so long that it becomes a chore. Of course you can go longer or shorter--whatever you prefer. Some people meditate for hours, and there are stories of sessions lasting days.
Bored? Embrace it!
Now sometime during your practice, you will find yourself bored. After all, you are sitting in complete silence doing nothing...
Don't feel discouraged. Boredom is completely natural and something I have struggled with a lot. I find what works best is to embrace it. Meditation is all about letting go and just being. So when that nagging feeling of boredom creeps on, accept it. Try to feel the sensation, and when you are ready, let it go.
Letting go is harder said than done. If you are still struggling, really focus on the breath. It will give you something to do and hopefully distract your mind. However, the point of meditation is to do nothing. Modern life is so busy that relaxing can often feel wrong. Sometimes it just takes time for your mind to adjust.
Lastly, if you are still bored, know that it is strengthening you. This won't make the boredom go away, but it might make it more tolerable. Doing something uncomfortable or that you don't want to do strengthens your mind and prepares you for challenges.
“It is not enough to accept boredom, you must embrace it. It is only when you have completely embraced it that you can go beyond it.”
— Albert Low
My Favorite Meditation Video
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.