What are the Benefits of Meditation on Stress?
Obviously one of the first questions you may ask yourself is why do I want to meditate or what am I trying to accomplish- so let’s take a look at the various reasons for meditating.
Meditation and mindfulness practice has been around for ages with many well publicized health benefits – some of the more well-known benefits include: increased concentration, lowered blood pressure, more restful sleep, decreased anxiety, reduced stress and a general feeling of happiness and well-being among others.
Meditation can be Rewarding
There is a certain mindset needed to make the practice sustainable, so make it a formal practice where you set aside a specific time (goal would be 30 minutes but you can start with less) and a certain place during the day where you can sit quietly and relax without outside disturbance.
There are many forms of meditation-sitting, lying down, walking etc. for purposes of this exercise we will be discussing “Sitting Meditation”.
While sitting (either regular crossed legged-full lotus/half lotus or straight back in a chair) hands should be on your legs or right hand under left hand on your lap, thumbs touching. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and start to relax, let yourself know (in your mind) that there is no where you have to be and nothing you have to do for the moment.
There are many different ways to focus the mind. You can use your breath as an anchor, sound as in a meditation CD or with eyes slightly open to a point about 2-3 feet away- these are just a few.
Where Do I Start?
If you start with the breath then breathing deep slows the heart rate, relaxes the muscles, focuses the mind and is an ideal way to begin.
Focus on the in-breath then the out-breath and continue like that- you will find as a beginner that your mind is full of thoughts and you can’t seem to stop them. DON’T… (In your head) watch them pass across the screen of your mind like clouds, this is a form of “mindfulness meditation” which encourages the practitioner (you) to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind.
The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of them as they arise.
The important thing is not to attach your attention onto any one thought, just let them pass through- continue concentrating on the in/out breath and with patience and practice you will find that these distracting thoughts will become fewer and further between.
During your initial stages of practice you may say to yourself “what am I doing here” or “why can’t I just quiet my mind”. When this happens, know you are on the right track and continue to focus on your breath. Let the frustrated feelings go like clouds across the summer sky and remember this-
Once an old Zen Master was asked by his disciples how he had attained enlightenment – The old Master kindly replied to his students “When I was hungry I ate…when I was thirsty I drank”
Meditation is a wonderful and rewarding practice as well as a life-long training, do not worry over your daily practice. No matter what happens during your meditation session, do not stress about it, stay confident in the fact that the single most important thing you can do at this stage is to just sit and practice every day without fail. Use that as your progress report.
PS: Part of living longer and enjoying a healthier lifestyle is relieving stress, and this has to be a part of your everyday life. So decide for yourself now at this moment, that you don’t have to live with stress. You owe it to yourself to start meditating today.
For more on meditation and mindful practices please visit my website www.healingbodyandmind.org where you can find the tools and motivation to take your practice to the next level.
To your mindful success,
images courtesy of pixabay.com