Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and has been studied scientifically for decades. Proven benefits include:
- Reduced stress and improves emotional health
- Improved concentration, creativity, and attention
- Increased sense of gratitude and kindness
While the practice of meditation can be done in many ways, perhaps the most simple and well-known method involves sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing (also known as mindfulness meditation).
Interested in giving it a try? Good for you: it's a free and easy way to literally change the way your brain works. We strongly encourage it!
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Try This: A Simple 5-Minute Meditation
Maybe you think you can't meditate because whenever you sit down to try, you just can't seem to turn your brain off. Don't let this thought stop you! The practice of meditation isn't about "emptying your mind" so much as it is being aware of your tendency to think and then come back to a more present-grounded state of being.
If anything, the very fact that your mind wanders a lot while meditating can be a good thing, because it'll give you ample opportunity to practice letting go of your thoughts without judgment.
You may also think you can't meditate because you don't have time. Fortunately, even just 5 to 10 minutes a day has been shown to be beneficial! For a simple 5-minute meditation session of your own, give the following strategy a try:
- Sit in a comfortable position: either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair. To make sure you remain alert, sit relaxed yet straight without your back leaning against anything.
- Close your eyes and begin taking normal breaths in and out through your nose. Give all your attention to one component of your breath, your pick: the feel of the air as it passes through your nostrils, the sound it makes, the rise and fall of your chest, or some other aspect. Do this quietly for 5 minutes.
- If you begin to notice yourself thinking, don't judge yourself and don't judge the thoughts either! Simply notice them and then mentally say the word "Thinking." This cue helps you let go of the thought and return your focus to your breath.
As you build confidence and practice, you can increase the time to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or longer. Better to start small rather than try to do too much all at once so as to avoid discouragement.
And remember, meditation doesn't have to be an intimidating exercise. But like physical exercise, the more you do, the more benefits you'll get out of it!
Looking for some more Zen-like activities to add to your life? Check out our HealthSPORT yoga classes!