Meditation is gaining increasing attention in contemporary society for good reason. Though there are many different techniques of meditation, as beginners we can approach it by understanding that it focuses on resting the mind and reaching a calm place of awareness that is unlike our normal waking state. As research begins to look more carefully at the power of meditation, an increasing number of studies are demonstrating that there are many ways in which it can improve our well being.
Let’s look at some of the benefits that regular meditation can bring to your life.
1. Increases your ability to concentrate
Scientific research has demonstrated time and again that meditation improves the individual’s ability to concentrate and sustain attention. As such, it can lead to improved cognition and an increased ability to perform tasks requiring focus.
A recent study concluded that while extended periods of meditation certainly enhance working memory. In a world in which increasing numbers of people struggle with concentration, it could prove to be a powerful tool for regaining our ability to think clearly.
2. Lessens anxiety
The stillness of meditation can bring us into a state of real calmness. For those who suffer with anxiety, this calmness can act as a starting point for loosening the grip of those painful feelings of fear. A clinical study from 2013 showed that even a small number of meditation classes allowed patients to lessen their anxiety through “the regulation of self-referential thought processes”
3. Helps with depression
If you have ever suffered from depression, you’ll know that part of the problem is that negative thoughts constantly run around your mind. Meditation works with focus and attention, and it can help us to regain control of our thoughts. A study from 2014 found that just thirty minutes of daily mindfulness-based meditation was as effective at relieving mild to moderate symptoms of depression as antidepressants.
4. Helps to decrease blood pressure
High levels of stress and high blood pressure go hand in hand, and these are commonplace problems in today’s fast-paced society. Many of us are in a constant state of high alert, and relaxation techniques like meditation can help us to become more balanced. The increased relaxation that comes with meditation can help to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.
5. Can improve sleep
Having read all the benefits above, it’ll be no surprise to discover that meditation can also help you to get a long and restful night of sleep. This was confirmed by a recent study that looked at older patients with disrupted sleep patterns and concluded that meditation helped them to re-establish a healthy bedtime routine.
How do I start meditating?
Making meditation a part of your routine has the potential to greatly improve your quality of life. Learning to meditate is just like learning any other new skill – you start, you practice and you keep going!
As a beginner, you can try this quiet, calming meditation for three to five minutes. As you become familiar with it, you can increase the amount of time that you sit for. Getting comfortable with this practice might encourage you to explore different techniques, or perhaps try out the meditation groups available in your local area.
A short mindfulness meditation for beginners
Find a quiet and calm space, and sit comfortably with a straight back.
Gently close your eyes and draw your attention inwards.
Feel the weight of your body resting on your chair or cushion.
Bring your awareness to the sensations of breathing.
Notice the rhythm of your breath. Allow it to be as it is.
Feel the movement of air as it flows in and out of your nose.
Let the breath become the anchor for your attention.
Observe any thoughts that arise without judgement.
Feel the sensations in your body as you inhale and exhale.
As you inhale, your body is refreshed. As you exhale, tensions are released.
If thoughts arise, gently let go of them. Return your awareness to the
Allow yourself be still and rested.
Gradually bring your attention back to the surface of your body.
Open your eyes and stand up slowly.
If you’re struggling to find a quiet place to meditate, you might consider grabbing a pair of our earbuds which will easily tune out any external noise and allow you to tune into your inner being.