Meditating is Worth a Try

Lots of folks meditate. Even some who don’t know they‘re meditating. If you’ve ever sat still, doing nothing, and thinking about nothing… well then, you’ve meditated!

Meditation is about letting go of outside stimuli and freeing a cluttered mind so you can find comfort and relaxation within your own body. It’s a fairly uncomplicated process with lots of benefits. However, the process can become complicated if you overthink it or try too hard.

The process of meditating is actually quite simple. It involves nothing more than sitting still while focusing your conscious awareness on your breathing as you breathe in and out in a natural, effortless way. That’s really all there is to it.

While you sit quietly and breathe in and out naturally and evenly, simply empty your mind of thoughts and concentrate all your attention on the process and sensations of breathing. Focus on your breath as it enters and leaves your nose… the feeling under your nose as you breathe in and out… your lungs as they inflate and deflate… and the sounds you make as you breathe, etc. Do not analyze your breathing, merely observe and experience it.

Whenever your mind shifts away from your breathing or if random thoughts pop into your head (and they definitely will), gently bring your attention back to your breathing. You don’t have to fight with your thoughts and you shouldn’t feel guilty or wrong if you start thinking about something. Once you realize your attention has wandered, just refocus on your breath again. If a thought is important, you will remember it later.

If you’re new to meditating, you probably have many questions about how to begin. Here are some answers common questions. The answers are provided by people who have incorporated meditation into their daily lives. These individuals are not meditation experts, but they are folks who enjoy meditating and find the practice beneficial.

A few of the benefits…

  • Meditation has a calming effect that helps reduce stress and anxiety and relieve tension, anger, and frustration.

  • Meditation builds self-esteem, because you become comfortable and confident in your own skin.

  • Meditation can make you feel like you’ve just taken a vacation that has left you relaxed, happy, and refreshed.

  • Meditation frees your mind so you can gain clarity and helps with problem-solving. You start looking at things from a new perspective.

  • Meditation sweeps out all the cobwebs in your brain and makes room for more creativity and intuitive thinking.

  • Meditation makes it easier to really focus on something and completely immerse yourself in a project until you have completed it.

Answers to common questions…

When should I meditate?

When you meditate is up to you. Find a quiet time of day when meditation fits easily into your schedule. Many people prefer to meditate early in the morning or before going to bed at night. To really reap the benefits of meditating, it’s important to make it part of your daily life. Once meditation is incorporated into your usual daily routine, it will feel normal and natural. Soon, you won’t want to miss even one session.

Where should I meditate?

Meditate in a quiet, peaceful spot with no distractions (including cell phone calls and texts). Make it a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed, but not so tranquil and comfy that you could fall asleep easily. Some people prefer to meditate indoors where it’s easier to control distractions, but others prefer to meditate outdoors in the fresh air.

How long should I meditate?

Meditating for at least 30 minutes is most beneficial. Begin with 5 minute sessions, work up to 10, then 15, etc. If you can’t fit in 30 minutes every day, meditating five or 10 minutes is day is better than 30 minutes once or twice a week. Use a timer when meditating so you don’t have to keep looking at a clock. When you set your timer, remember to leave yourself a little extra time to ease out of the meditative state. Use a soothing alarm sound to let you know when it’s time to bring your meditation session to a close.

How long should I meditate?

You can meditate lying down or sitting up. Some people choose to sit up when they meditate because it isn’t as easy to fall asleep when seated as it is lying down. Some people like to sit cross-legged while they meditate. Sitting with your head pointed slightly downward can help open up your chest to support breathing. People use all types of surfaces for meditating, the floor, a chair, a bench, a yoga mat, or a cushion. Find whatever you find most comfortable. There are special cushions made for meditating.

Do I have to stay completely still while meditating?

Once you settle into a comfortable position for meditating, try not to adjust your position unless it becomes uncomfortable. Moving your body around can interrupt your breathing pattern and stimulate your brain to start sending out thoughts.

What should I do with my eyes while I meditate?

Most people meditate with their eyes shut. Keeping your eyes open during meditation can be distracting and stimulate the brain. It’s easier to focus your attention inward and relax more completely with your eyes shut. But, if you do decide to keep your eyes open, try to look at one spot and soften your gaze so you are not really focusing in on anything.

What should I do with my hands as I’m meditating?

Many people simply lay their hands down on their laps or thighs. Some people like to form a circle with the thumb and a finger. You want your hands to feel relaxed and comfortable. It’s best to try to keep your hands still and to refrain from fidgeting.

How should I end a meditation session?

Take your time bringing yourself out of a meditative state. Before jumping up and heading back into your life, let yourself gradually become aware of and engage in your surroundings. Open your eyes slowly, sit in the stillness for a moment, and then gently shift your body until you feel ready to reengage in life.

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