Do you often get stressed out from trying to meet the demands of everyday life? Have you not engaged in any form of physical or recreational activity lately? If your answer is yes to these questions, then it’s about time you make conscious choices to transform your life. Living in a fast-paced environment where our minds and nervous systems are constantly stimulated is no easy feat.
Over the years, meditation has become an extremely popular form of mental relaxation for many people around the world. This practice is widely believed to slow the mind down, release tension, and restore a sense of balance. Regardless of your age, status, or physique, meditation can be a great way to achieve mindfulness and improve your overall well being.
Meditation for Pain Management
Meditation is an ancient practice rooted in Buddhism and other Eastern religions. This holistic approach takes patience and begins with focusing your attention on the present moment and not judging your thoughts in the process.
If you suffer from chronic pain or any form of physical discomfort, meditation is worth looking at to help you manage your pain. The Cleveland Clinic claims that behavioral medicine, particularly the combination of yoga and meditation, is a great alternative to pain-relieving drugs. When you meditate, your brain reaches a calmer state, shifting your focus away from the pain.
Integrating regular meditation into your treatment or rehabilitation for pain will not only save you money but can also help your brain release endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers.
Meditation for Illness Prevention
A number of scientific studies have established the many benefits of meditation, including using it as a tool in preventing illnesses. According to Harvard Health Publishing, taking a few minutes to meditate each day can reduce stress, pain, and anxiety. Although meditation is an ancient practice, research on its health benefits is relatively new but promising.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular and most studied types of meditation over the years. This practice involves sitting in silence and allowing yourself to fully concentrate on your thoughts without passing judgment on them. It also encourages you to focus objectively on negative thoughts as they move through your mind, so you can achieve a calm state.
While meditation does not guarantee full-on treatment for any type of pain or illness, it can certainly help you control your thoughts, master your emotions, and train the nervous system to stay regulated in the face of stress.
How to Start Meditating
If you are a beginner to meditation, you might find it quite challenging and even daunting at first, but you’ll never know if it’s right for you unless you give it a try. That’s why we created this beginner’s guide to give you all the tips and recommendations you need to get started.
Sit back and relax
The starting point for all meditation practice is to find a quiet place to sit with little to no distractions. You can sit on a cushion, a bolster, a firm pillow, a folded blanket, a med.
013itation bench, or even on the floor, as long as it’s comfortable for you. You can also sit against a wall if you need back support. Just make sure your hips are higher than your knees by at least four inches to reduce any discomfort. Whatever your seat, the objective is to sit straight and lengthen your spine so it’s easier to breathe. Imagine you’re sitting on a throne with your tailbone and the crown of your head pulling away from each other. This helps you maintain alertness and increase your energy flow throughout your practice.
Set your timer
We recommend beginners to start with a short and simple meditation session to learn the basics and slowly build up from there. While a five to ten-minute practice is already beneficial, you can try adding one minute a day each week until you build up to 30 minutes, or whatever time is long enough to feel your mind begin to shift. Don’t forget to set your timer to avoid the temptation of peeking at the clock every once in a while. The key is to establish a routine and meditate at the same time and place each day. Doing this regularly will allow you to rewire your brain to be less stressed and more responsive. Thus, you become more present, calmer, and can function better.
Tune in with your body
Also known as the body scan, tuning in with your body is one of the most effective ways to begin a mindfulness meditation. Doing this enables you to connect fully with your physical self and notice any sensations you feel without judgment. With time and practice, the body scan will cultivate your ability to be mindful, open, and ultimately, more accepting.
Focus on your breath
Your breathing is the most important element of any meditation practice. This concentration technique helps you focus and move into a more meditative state. You can close your eyes or gaze softly downward as you notice the rhythm of your breaths—your chest contracting and expanding. Exhale slowly on deeper breaths to let go of stress and bodily tension. When you pay attention to your breath as you meditate, you learn to return to, and remain in, the present moment—and anchor yourself in the here and now on purpose, without judgment.
Connect with your senses
Rooted in the Vipassana tradition, this technique involves observing sensations in your body, like cold hands or feet or an itch in your nose. It’s normal for your thoughts to wander to other places as you meditate, especially if you’re still starting out. Meditation is a great way to connect with and become fully aware of your senses. If you notice that your mind has wandered for a while, simply return your focus to your breath and get in touch with your senses. Pay attention to the objects you see around, the sounds you hear, the scents you smell, the tastes on your tongue, and the things you touch. Breathe and let all judgment go.
Be kind to your mind
As a beginner, it’s important to treat your mind as kindly as possible so you don’t lose yourself in the process. Aside from relaxation, your primary goal is to become mindful and get rid of any judgment on your thoughts. Mindfulness meditation takes patience and kindness to achieve a more neutral attitude towards yourself. Whether you’re fighting your biggest war in your own head or you simply want to relax, meditation can be your cup of tea. Just remember to breathe, smile, and do it as kindly as possible.
Make mindfulness a habit
Once you’ve started meditating, sooner or later you might find it hard to stay on track. You’ll either be too busy, too tired, or too preoccupied to stick with it. Rather than submit to these excuses, pay attention to what they are and ask yourself what things do you actually have time for. While meditation will neither solve all your problems nor guarantee everlasting happiness, it can help you build self-trust and self-sufficiency.
A regular practice proves that you will show up for yourself and strive to become more mindful each day. Commit to sit and breathe for at least five minutes daily, and inject far-reaching and long-lasting benefits into your life. When you make mindfulness a habit, you change how you choose to view, relate to, and react to the circumstances happening around you, which, in turn, changes the way you feel about yourself and others.
How to Progress After Starting
The biggest thing you can do as a beginner in meditation practice is to start and choose to keep going. The beauty of mindfulness meditation reveals itself through practice, and consistency is key to achieving progress once you have started. After you have found a style or established a routine that works for you, the positive results will highlight the value of the practice and serve as motivation to keep finding your inner peace. You can also try these tips to develop and progress in mindfulness meditation:
- Research and study to learn more about meditation and its benefits
- Put meditation reminders around yo
- Commit to a regular schedule of home practice or meditation classes
- Participate in meditation workshops or events related to meditation
- Increase the length and frequency of your meditation practice
- Practice meditation with a buddy or a group
- Journal the effects of meditation on your body, mind, and heart
Once you have powered through the challenge of meditating for the first time, it will become a very rewarding part of your wellness routine that can help you thrive in this fast-paced culture we live in. Hopefully, these tips on how to meditate can guide you on your journey towards mindfulness. So what are you waiting for? Start meditating today and reap the benefits of a long, healthy, and pain-free life.