Something Sensible Saturday – Meditation

Have you ever tried meditating before? If not, is it because meditation seems intimidating, difficult, foreign, or strange? Something just for monks in the mountains?

I’m here to tell you that meditating is AWESOME and nowhere near as complicated as you might think. Here are some super-basic instructions for how to meditate. It takes 5 minutes (or, a little longer than the time it will take you to read this blog post).

Step 1: Sit comfortably with your back straight.

Step 2: Set a timer for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Focus your attention your your breathing (how it feels, counting your breaths as they go in and out, or whatever you like).

Step 4: When you notice your attention wandering, bring it gently back to focus on your breath.

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until your timer goes off.

That’s it! After you get comfortable with the practice, you can increase the time you spend meditating to 10 or 30 minutes a day, but it’s easier to start off with small chunks of time.

If you need more convincing, here are some cool benefits of meditating:

  • It is calming, relaxing, and restful.
  • Some studies show that meditation improves concentration, productivity, test scores, happiness, and many other things.
  • People who meditate have better sleep quality, and maybe even need less sleep.
  • Meditating lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, and can have other health benefits such as improved immune system and fewer stress-related health conditions.
  • Read about more meditation benefits here.

And here are some great resources for meditation beginners (and advanced practitioners!):

  • A well-written, helpful beginner’s guide from the guy over at A Year of Productivity.
  • A free beginner’s meditation podcast, called the Take10 Program, made by the people at Headspace that you can download on your computer or mobile or access online. Andy guides you through 10 sessions of 10-minute meditation. This is a great resource if you’re not quite sure where to start, because Andy talks you through everything from your posture to your breathing. And his voice is like British honey.
  • Another beginner’s guide from Lifehacker.

Meditation doesn’t have to be just sitting and saying “Ohm,” either. There are many types of meditation. You can meditate by doing anything that doesn’t require thinking (walking, knitting, mowing the lawn) and being mindful of the task at hand. That means that, instead of focusing your attention on the breath, and bringing your thoughts back to the breath when they wander, you focus your attention on the task at hand. This mindfulness meditation practice can be just as effective as the sitting and breathing.

I’ve been meditating off and on since high school, and I notice an improvement in my focus and overall feelings of well-being when I meditate. It can be hard to find time, and frustrating when you’re first starting out and your brain won’t settle down (also called the “Monkey Mind”), but I bet you’ll start feeling the benefits if you start meditating regularly, even just for five minutes.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

What are your thoughts and opinions on meditation? Do you have any favorite resources on meditation? Share your experience and advice in the comments!

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