Meditation teaches us to live in the present moment. While meditating we practise being fully aware of our actions, thoughts, feelings, and emotions, without reacting to them.
Meditation is one of the most ancient forms of mental, spiritual and physical health practices. The practice spread to the West thousands of years after it was adopted in the East and is now widely recommended as a stress management tool.
A common myth surrounding meditation is that it is about controlling your thoughts and feelings or emptying your mind. On the contrary, it’s about learning to observe your inner thoughts, feelings and emotions without reacting to them. It’s about gaining greater awareness and clarity without judgement.
Benefits of meditation
Mental vitality and happiness
Meditating increases brain activity in an area of the brain associated with happiness and positive thoughts and emotions, and some evidence shows that regular practice brings prolonged positive changes in these areas.
When meditating, your heart rate and breathing slow down, your blood pressure normalizes, and you use oxygen more efficiently. Your adrenal glands produce less cortisol, your mind ages at a slower rate, and your immune function improves.
Meditation can relieve physical complaints like headaches and can enhance our immunity.
Tips for meditating
Try to meditate at the same time and in the same place every day to help you build a habit.
Find a comfortable posture. If possible your head, neck, back and spine should be straight but experiment with using props and cushions to help you sit comfortably. It’s probably better not to lie down as it makes it easier to fall asleep! Instead of lying down, try sitting in a chair or with your back against a wall for support.
Focusing on your breath is a simple way to keep you in the present moment when your mind gets distracted – and it will! Try bringing your awareness to sensations of breathing in and out of your nostrils.
For more techniques on how to start and maintain a meditation practice, read 5 simple tips to start a meditation practice.