Meditation is an act of focusing attention to be fully aware and in the present moment. During a meditative state we allow thoughts to come and go like clouds in the sky and simply observe them without judgement and relinquish the desire to control them.
The primary aim for meditation is to train the busy mind in becoming quiet and releasing stress, anxiety and depression from our physical reality. Regular meditative practice allows for higher awareness and offers peace and serenity while clearing and letting go of intrusive thoughts that may not serve you.
Meditation has been shown to impact psychological wellbeing and re-configuration of neurological pathways. It also boosts the immune system as well as memory. A study conducted by Harvard University found that an eight-week mindfulness meditation program can lead to structural brain changes, including increased grey matter density in the hippocampus (important for learning and memory) and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
People who practice meditation tend to have a more positive outlook on life and lower chance of experiencing depression. While there are several different types and ways to meditate, here is a simple guide for getting started:
Meditation for Beginners
Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a few moments to simply “be”. Whatever you experience in the moment, (sounds, thoughts, feelings, sensations) try to avoid the need to control them.
Bring your attention to your breathing. Just notice the air moving in and out of the nose and do not try to control or manipulate the breathing in any way.
Now breathe deeply – breathe deeply from the belly (known as diaphragmatic breathing). Use the full volume of the lungs. Big, slow, deep breaths. The mind may wander away from the breath and that’s okay! Just easily bring it back to focus on breathing once more. Make each inhalation last for four seconds, hold the breath for another four, and the exhale another four seconds out of the nose. Let all of your experiences, thoughts, emotions, and sensations come and go in the background of your awareness of your breathing.
Practice a few minutes of four second breathing cycles then try to go deeper and hold a little longer (up to 7 seconds). Then return to a more comfortable relaxed breathing rate that suits you.
After about 10-15 minutes any incessant thoughts should have eased and you will feel more grounded, aware, and relaxed. In time, you can become more aware of the tendencies of your mind. You will see how it resists certain experiences and tries to hold on to others. If you experience a resistance to what is occurring and attempt to change what is happening or the tendency to hold on to experiences of the past, work towards letting them go.
Start meditating to boost your overall health, happiness and sense of wellbeing.