What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.
Meditating may seem intimidating but the practice has become popular in recent years. The good news is that whether you have never practiced meditation or want to pick it up again, there's no better time to start than today. Want to start but having difficulty finding the time to do it? One thing that has worked for our founder, Maria, who meditates daily, is connecting the practice to her personal goals in life. When we connect any activity, whether it is going to the gym, running or practicing mindfulness, to the things that matter the most, we are more intrinsically motivated to stick to it.
Another thing to keep in mind is the idea of self-kindness. It may not be easy at first but remember to be gentle to yourself. Be aware that the intention of meditation comes from a deep place of wanting to do something for yourself, wanting to be more healthy. Maria encourages a commitment to let go of judgment. So be positive, you won’t fail, it takes practice and you are doing this out of love for yourself. Below are a few tips that Maria shared with us, which you can follow to set your meditation routine.
Tips To Follow
- A basic exercise of meditation is focusing your attention on an anchor, such as your breath, a candle, or a neutral object like a stone. When you notice your thoughts moving away or wandering away from your anchor, gently pause, recognize the distraction and let it go, then bring your attention back to the anchor. There are also a few apps you can download that have two-three minutes of guided meditation. These are very helpful for someone who is just beginning to meditate. Maria has used three minutes of guided meditations in her group sessions, and they have been quite useful.
- After you’ve found your anchor, the next step to meditation is to show self-compassion. Meditation is not a practice of stopping thoughts but a practice of being aware of them. Instead of judging yourself when your mind wanders, try gently to bring your focus back to your anchor.
- The next step is to start small with your time commitment. Instead of beginning for 30 minutes each day, try five, two or three minutes to start developing your new habit. Then gradually increase it when you feel as if it's manageable for you.
- Maintaining a regular time and place for meditation is also key in developing a habit. Create a schedule by figuring out which time of day and days of the week you will commit to practicing. Find yourself a quiet and comfortable spot. According to some experts, they recommend meditating in the morning. Maria also prefers practicing in the morning but there are no strict rules about when you should meditate. Practice when it works for you. It could be at the end of your workday when you spend a few minutes quieting your thoughts, during the middle of the day to clear your mind or any other time that suits you.
- Once you have established a time and a comfortable place to meditate, it's important to remember to enjoy and acknowledge that experience. A habit is more likely to repeat itself when we associate it with a reward or a feeling. So when you are done meditating, take 15 seconds to check how you are feeling. Do you feel good? Relaxed? Aware of yourself? Keep these feelings in mind, congratulate yourself because you’re taking care of you.
Enhances Self-Awareness. Meditation helps with self-awareness by developing a stronger understanding of yourself. It can help you become aware of your harmful and negative thoughts that may be continually playing inside us. By being self-aware of your thoughts without judging them, you can steer them toward more constructive patterns and practice positive self-talk.
Reduces stress/ Anxiety. Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness meditation can reduce the inflammation response caused by stress. Mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Stress, and the increase in cortisol, can produce different effects in people: problems with sleep, depression, anxiety and headaches are just a few.
Lengthens Attention Span. Our thoughts are continually living in the future or the past, leading to anxiety and depression. Some research has shown that people who practice meditation regularly have improved attention spans because they are practiced in focusing on the present. Studies have shown that those who practiced mindful meditation regularly stayed focused on longer tasks than those who didn't.
Improves sleep. Most people, at some point, have struggled with insomnia. Meditation may help control or redirect the racing thoughts that often lead to insomnia. Allowing your mind to focus on an anchor, acknowledging the racing thoughts and letting them go can help relax your mind enough to sleep.
Meditation has a lot of benefits and can be used to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Our founder Maria has experienced it by herself:
“I started meditation as a form or way to reduce my stress and anxiety attacks, to improve my mental health overall. Aside from the above benefits, there are many other benefits of practicing meditation. My reason for giving meditation a go was to reach a better mental health state. Doing a short period of meditation has helped me to become mindful throughout all parts of my life.”
Remember: Meditation Is About You
There’s no such thing as perfect. When you make meditation part of your lifestyle it can make the world of difference. But remember, it’s about you so make it your own. While it may take time to be able to meditate to your liking, you’ll get there and practice will make it easier. We’re sure that you’ll be happy with the results.