By Adrian Drew, writer and founder of Yugen, a minimalistic blog and advice service about mental health and self-improvement.
Meditation has gained an enormous amount of publicity in the 21st century, yet still, very few people actually practice it.
For such a simple practice it’s benefits are breathtaking – here is but a handful:
- Meditation improves focus.
- It reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- It improves immune system efficiency.
- It boosts cognitive functioning and creativity.
- It reduces blood pressure.
(And these only scratch the surface – see here for more.)
These benefits are grounded in evidence from countless peer-reviewed studies.
Students from Harvard University, for example, found that participants that practiced mindfulness meditation for just 27 minutes a day saw dramatic physical increases areas of the brain involved in memory and learning, and decreases in size in areas pertaining to anxiety and stress.
Furthermore, an article published to the Psychological Bulletin showed meditation to reduce electrical activity in the brain, producing feelings of calm and relaxation in those that practiced it.
These are only two studies of many thousands, all showing the astounding benefits of the regular practice of meditation.
It’s no doubt that meditation can have profound effects on mental health and wellness, but what on earth is it?
How to Practice Meditation
The practice of meditation is incredibly simple. Given the tremendous benefits, it would be natural to expect the practice to be complex and difficult. Thankfully this isn’t the case.
- To begin, you may wish to take a comfortable seat free from distraction.
- Close your eyes.
- Deepen your breathing, inhaling into the base your abdomen.
- Begin to notice your thoughts as they come and go. Don’t get lost in them, simply let them pass over you.
- If you happen to become distracted by thinking, softly return to the breath.
- Feel relaxed.
There are no rules with meditation, so long as you follow the skeleton of this practice.
For example, you may find it useful to visualize yourself as a stationary mountain, the clouds of your thoughts simply passing over you. Others focus wholly on the breath, the sensations it gives rise to and its fleeting nature.
The sole purpose of the practice is to become present. In meditation you tune into the here and now, taking a moment away from the hustle and bustle of life to be at one with the world.
And the wonderful thing about meditation is that it isn’t restricted only to quiet moments spent with your eyes closed. You can tap into the present moment at any time throughout your day simply by noticing the world around you and disconnecting from thought.
Just ten minutes of meditation a day can work wonders for our happiness, so why not start today?
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. – Amit Ray
If you enjoyed this article and wish to read more of my work, to ask me a question or to seek my advice, you can do so via my website, Yugen.