Meditation has been proven to boost physical and mental health, improve cognitive function, alleviate depression, reduce stress and even slow the ageing process. All you need is a quiet space and the ability to breathe to be able to experience the numerous benefits of this ancient art.
Meditation, or mindfulness as it is also referred to, is all about slowing down and focusing your attention on the present moment. It breaks the cycle of depressive thoughts by bridging the rumination of negative thought patterns. It also exercises our “attention muscle” in the brain and in doing so builds physiological and psychological resilience. It is not about sitting cross legged and chanting as per the stereotypes you may be familiar with. But it is the cheapest and healthiest way of dealing with anxiety, anger and stress.
Because it is just you and your mind, meditation can be performed at any time, day or night. You can start meditating for as little as five minutes, which means that it is easy to fit it in no matter how busy your schedule. Here are just a few of the ways you can introduce the practice to your life and start to reap the rewards.
Guided Meditation Apps
There are some wonderful apps available that are a perfect introduction to the practice because they require nothing more than a few minutes of your time and a comfortable and quiet space. You will be guided by a soothing voice that helps bring your awareness to focal points. Often starting with breath control, then moving towards releasing tension in your muscles progressively through out your body, which allows you to experience the blissful benefits of drawing your attention to the present moment.
Dry Body Brushing
Your skin is the largest organ in the body so it makes sense that looking after it is going to give you an overall sense of well-being. Keep your eyes quiet, the jaw relaxed and focus on your breath while you dry body brush at a rhythmic pace. Not only will your skin be silky smooth, you will be rejuvenating your nervous system by stimulating nerve endings, reducing muscle tension and calming your mind which relieves stress.
An ancient form of gentle Chinese martial arts practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits, Tai Chi is a self-paced series of postures or movements that are performed in a slow and graceful manner while concentrating on deep breathing. Research has found that both Tai Chi has a powerful effect on the mind, cultivating a stillness that serves to increase focus, reduce stress, and boost cognitive skills. Popular with all age groups, you can find classes at local community centres near you.
Yoga Nidra is a guided practice which translates as “yogic sleep,” although this method of meditation is not meant to be about getting in a good snooze. Using a variety of techniques, including guided imagery and body scanning to aid relaxation, you will identify sensations throughout your body while focusing on the breath and (ideally) remaining in a state of relaxed awareness so that you may release deeply held tensions. While the intention is to induce full-body relaxation and a deep meditative state of consciousness, this practice is so relaxing that sometimes you can’t help but drift off. Perfect for those who struggle to sleep, you will wake to a blissful sense of calm, leaving you to float amongst the rest of your day.
Which ever way you may choose to meditate you will always become one with your mind. Your practice can be as long or as short as you like, however meditation is a skill, and like any skill, it takes much practice and concentration. Always remember, it is not a competition. There is no right or wrong way to do it, there is no downside, because you simply cannot fail at meditating.