I hope you do not believe in the myth that meditation is a business exclusively for Indian yogis, Buddhist monks, or Tibetan lamas. Yes, for many centuries Eastern practices have included meditation and it is considered the key to a healthy and harmonious life. But today meditation is a skill that modern man needs. Everybody is talking about her – stars, athletes, successful businessmen, and its usefulness has been proven from a scientific point of view.
– Meditation is a psychological practice aimed at calming the mind and achieving a special state when the body, mind, and spirit level off. First of all, meditation is directed to this state. Concentration, stopping the thinking process – this is a consequence of the practice. Meditation has become the direction of psychotherapy and is widely used in the practice of psychologists.
How to start meditating
It is not necessary to imitate the monks and meditate a few hours a day, nor should you force yourself to sit with your back straight in the lotus position with the mantra “om”. To begin with, just one or two minutes of meditation in silence or under relaxing music is enough.
Find a quiet place where you can spend a few minutes alone and no one will interfere with you, put the phone aside, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Focus on breathing, take a deep breath and take a deep breath. Do not try to stop the flow of thoughts, but try not to linger on them and, as it were, to watch from the sidelines.
– In psychotherapeutic practice, basic meditation is meditation with a concentration on an object. The most common object is breathing. This is convenient, because at any place and at any time without special conditions a person can concentrate on his breathing. And if a person does not really understand how to follow the breath, then there is one very simple and clear technique of unidirectional attention. Go for a walk and try to focus the senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch – on what is around you. Look at the sky, the clouds, listen to the birds singing, or feel the fragrance of flowers. This is very useful because you are shifting the focus of your attention from the thoughts that are in your head to what surrounds you. In fact, you can do the same with a morning cup of coffee or tea. Fully focus all your attention on this circle, as if there is nothing around anymore. Aroma, taste, color – connect tactile sensations and feel the warmth of the mug.
These can be considered the first steps in meditation. But then you should still try to meditate with a concentration on the breath.
5 myths about meditation
Despite the fact that meditation is becoming a more and more popular topic, quite often there are prejudices and misconceptions about it. Someone thinks that meditation is an exclusively esoteric concept, someone does not understand its meaning, and someone just does not manage to meditate.
There is a right and wrong meditation technique.
Let’s start with the main myth that in meditation you can do something wrong. In fact, the type of meditation is a huge amount. You can meditate sitting, lying, standing, while running, walking, or dancing. You can sing mantras, you can listen to music, or you can do it in silence. Meditation is managing your attention, calming your mind, that is, all the work is happening inside you.
Many, without realizing it, are already engaged in meditative practices in everyday life. You can meditate while cleaning, washing dishes, running, fishing, embroidering or knitting, drawing, swimming, or even when you make your morning coffee. Therefore, do not look for the “right” meditation technique – find what suits you.
Meditation is esoteric. Or worse, a sect
Meditation is just an exercise, a tool for working with your concentration and mind. It does not oblige you to spiritual practices, does not force you to go to distant lands or hide from everyone in the cave. Similarly, when meditating, it is not necessary to read mantras, listen to Indian music, light candles, or incense. It all depends on your desire – you can meditate the way you want.
In meditation, you need to completely free your mind from thoughts.
This is one of the myths that cause people to give up meditation after the first attempt. Stopping the flow of thoughts in your head is almost impossible. The task of meditation is to learn to observe these thoughts without condemnation. Only over time, you will be able to notice that your thinking stream is weakening.
Meditation is very long
To achieve results and not be disappointed in meditation, you should not try to immediately meditate for hours. For a start, you can do this for one or two minutes, where regularity is more important. For efficiency, it is worthwhile to introduce meditation into your daily life – it is the daily workouts that have the most positive effect.
Meditation is no good.
We are ready to deal with this myth seriously. Meditation has already been studied in some detail, many studies are devoted to it, during which hundreds of advantages of regular meditative practices have been discovered.
– Meditation is often associated with religious practices, but in reality, it has long been part of the scientific basis of psychotherapy. Therefore, you should not treat meditation as a Buddhist exercise, consider it as a training of the mind, training of inner attention. In general, meditation has a lot to do with training in the gym. The more often you play sports, the more positive effects you see. Running once, of course, is good, but it will not bring any results. Likewise with meditation – only regular practice will help you see all the effects that research says. After a one-time meditation, you relax, but no more.
Ideally, 30-40 minutes is allocated for meditation, but for people who have never tried it and heard about it for the first time, the practice will suit 1-3 minutes. One minute is a safe period when a person doesn’t seem to be afraid, but at the same time he will receive at least a minimum, but a result. And of course, you can not meditate every day, but at least 2-3 times a week.
5 useful properties of regular meditation
Reduces stress and anxiety
The study, which was led by Carnegie Mellon University David Cresswell, showed the following: conscious meditation improves the activity of brain regions that are responsible for emotional reactions and stress. The experiment was attended by those who truly meditated, and those who were engaged in various practices of relaxation and stretching. But significant changes in the brain were recorded only in meditators.
Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Arizona have established: meditation helps reduce stress at work, helps to focus on the problem, has fewer distractions, and easier to cope with more tasks at work.
Improves emotional state
A large-scale study of Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and Massachusetts Central Hospital proved: meditation physically changes the human brain. After eight weeks of an awareness-based stress reduction program (MBSR), brain imaging analysis showed significant changes in two areas:
in the left hippocampus, which is involved in learning, cognition, memorization, and regulation of emotions;
in the temporal-parietal node, which is associated with self-awareness, sympathy, compassion, and the ability to perceive the situation from different points of view and different perspectives.
Meditation improves concentration and attention.
During this study, it turned out: just a couple of weeks of meditation helps to improve attention and concentration. With the help of meditative practices, students improved by 16% the results of the verbal part of the GRE test, which is necessary for admission to graduate and postgraduate studies in the USA, Canada, Switzerland, and Australia.
Meditation improves sleep
A one-year study of adults with sleep problems has proven: meditation affects the quality of sleep and fights insomnia better than standard measures like a stable sleep pattern or avoiding caffeine at night.
Improves cognitive function in older age
Brain atrophy is a natural process that begins at 50-55 years. By the age of 80, the mass of the brain decreases in all people. This phenomenon explains the forgetfulness or difficulty in memorizing and assimilating new information. But the study showed that those who were engaged in meditation at the age of 50 had the same amount of gray matter in the area of the prefrontal cortex as the 25-year-olds.
– Meditation has a lot of useful properties that have been experimentally proven. But besides the positive effect on sleep, stress, immunity, and pressure, one of the key points, in my opinion, is improving contact with your emotions.
We used to process all sensations with the mind and only then pay attention to the feelings. And the practice of meditation allows you to open up to this experience and begin to feel the world around you directly, without judging what is happening to you. The analysis is turned off – whether we like it or not.
Feelings change, you begin to feel emotions 100% and enjoy everyday things, a feeling of fullness appears. Like, for example, with a cup of coffee – how often we can quickly swallow coffee in the morning and run further on our business. And in meditation, you will learn to appreciate these moments and to truly feel the taste of coffee. Therefore, I would call meditation a workout that helps to return to life.
Meditation has many advantages and there are no contraindications or bad effects. So why not try right now? Take a deep breath and get ready to relax.