How to Meditate – A Quick Guide
Learn the Basics on How to Start Mediation
It has been shown through extensive research that mindfulness practice, or commonly referred to as meditation, has tremendous psychological and physical health benefits. Cognitive benefits such as increased mood and improved memory can be seen within the first week! One of our recent blog posts goes into greater detail about the health benefits of meditation. However, there are many people that recognize the benefits of meditation, they simply lack an understanding of the basics on how to meditate. This blog serves as a quick guide to help those interested in starting their meditation practice.
Forms of Mediation:
There are multiple forms of mediation and the following is a quick summary of the most common types that one may incorporate into their practice. Undoubtedly, one (or more) of the following approaches will be most appealing to you and your practice.
1. The Body Scan
This form of meditation first became popular by Jon Kabat-Zinn who introduced the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) technique. This approach takes the mind on a journey across all parts of the body. Along this journey, the mind focuses on any physical sensations that are present. For example, starting at the left foot and ankle, one will focus their attention and realize if any of the following sensations are present: pain, tingling, hot, cold or simply pressure on contact with another surface. From there, the journey continues to the next body part until all major parts of the body have received this mental attention. The MBSR techniques can be up to 45 minutes in length and that is too long for anyone starting a meditation practice. However, a body scan can be completed in 5-10 minutes, which reflects 1% of the average waking hours of an individual.
Similar to the body scan, visualizations focus the mind’s attention on a particular object or location. Examples of visualizations include gazing at a candle, or a tree outside. Additional examples include mental visualizations, such as the imagery associated with walking on the beach, taking a stroll through a garden or a forest. Another popular visualization technique that blends with a body scan is Chakra mediation. The origins of Chakras are from ancient times and in Sanskrit, means the wheels of energy within the body. The Chopra Center has more detailed information on Chakras.
What is important about Chakra meditation is that it serves two purposes – incorporates mediation and a means to fuel your inner energy circles (corresponds with multiple nerve centers within the body).
3. Breathing Exercises
Probably the simplest form of meditation is to pay attention to your breath through inhalation and exhalation. This attention should focus not only on the breath, but also on the body as it changes throughout the breath cycle. For instance, the temperature of the air entering and leaving your mouth is one area to focus. So too is the chest rising and falling with each breath.
In addition, the breathing cadence can be varied between slow and normalized speeds. Typically an inhalation is shorter, there is a brief pause and the exhalation is longer, for this is consistent with how the body normally breathes. The same holds true when modifying the cadence during mediation. For example try a 3:1:4 cadence with 3 seconds on inhalation, a 1 second breath hold and a 4 second exhalation. Another example that is more calming is a 7:4:8 cadence with a slow and gradual inhalation and exhalation spaced with an extended breath hold. These breathing meditations can be a quick add to your daily routine, especially when periods of stress pick up during work.
The above three mediation approaches are common methods to achieve that goal of calming the mind. We suggest a trial and error approach to identify what meditation practice appeals best to you.
Quick Guide to Start Meditation
1. Commit: Commit to set aside at least 5-10 minutes 5 days a week for the first week to spend meditating. Make this a goal and be sure to reward yourself once you accomplish this goal.
2. Choose a time of day to mediate: It is important that your mediation practice becomes part of your daily routine. Therefore it is important to block out a specific time of the day to complete your daily mediation. Some people are fans of morning meditation, when there are less daily distractions. Others decide to do theirs during their lunch hour.
3. Select: Pick a meditation practice technique from the list above. Suggestions include the following:
Guided meditation – Examples include a 10-minute body scan or a 10-minute morning meditation, which incorporates visualizations and positive intentions to start your day on the right foot. The app available through Insight Timer offers a vast array of options, but the following are ones we find particularly useful: (MBSR) Short Body Scan – Tim Burnett and Morning Meditation with Music – Jonathan Lehmann.
Unguided meditation – Praying the Rosary can be considered a form of meditation, but for those less religiously inclined a meditation bracelet may be the trick. The meditation bracelet is comprised of multiple beads or stones with a single tiger’s eye included within the strand. The plan is to perform a breathing meditation, for instance a 7:4:8 cadence breathing cycle, for every bead on the bracelet. The meditation practice will start and stop on the tiger’s eye.
A music-based unguided meditation that we find useful is also available on Insight Timer. Select the Timer option and have the ambient sound on “Deep Om” and a duration of at least 10 minutes. This meditation is rhythmic and allows one to get immersed in the melodic chant that is very soothing.
4. Build: After completing the first week of your committed meditation practice, build upon from here. It is important to make this a daily routine and thus, turn this into a 7 day practice for the second week. Afterwards, one can start to extend the duration or the frequency of daily meditation. For instance, one can extend their 10-minute daily practice to 15 minutes. Or, they can add a second meditation in another part of their day. An example of this would be to have a 10-minute guided meditation in the morning and a lunchtime breathing exercises meditation with the help of a meditation bracelet.
The practice of meditation has many mental and physical health benefits. But these benefits can only be realized if meditation becomes a daily practice. Remember, the practice does not require a lot of time. Simply committing 1% of your waking hours will be sufficient.
The Success Trinity is passionate about nurturing others to find personal success. The foundation of our philosophy is to attain greater mindfulness and complimented with motivation techniques. The start of a mindfulness practice is no different; one must be continually motivated to commit to a mindfulness practice. That commitment must continue until the practice becomes automatic and the subconscious rewiring has begun to take shape.
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A bid you a peaceful day…