Inside: How To Meditate Effectively Wherever You Are.
We drag ourselves out of bed every morning to go to the gym to improve and train our bodies. Yet many of us neglect to spend time training our minds through practices like meditation. There is no better time than right now to learn how to relax and meditate effectively. We are amid the COVID-19 pandemic with many people quarantined at home for what feels like an indefinite time. We’re all working from our houses with our spouses, children, and pets. We’re managing to keep our businesses afloat while homeschooling our children and keeping them entertained.
In “regular times” we are overworked, underpaid and dealing with family issues but all of this is now compounded based on our new reality. We barely had downtime to clear our minds before and today it seems even more difficult to do. You need to find the time to relax and reset and train your mind
The Benefits of Meditation
There are many benefits when you meditate effectively including:
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Stress reduction
- Controls your anxiety
- Slows down your breathing
- Better memory and concentration
- Improves sleep patterns
- Increases in happiness
- Kinder, more tolerant and gentler
A 2011 and Harvard Study showed that participating in a mindfulness meditation program made measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.
The Two Basic Types Of Meditation
Concentration meditation forces you to focus on one single point such as your breath. An example would be staring at a fixed point like a tree and repeating a single word or mantra. The goal is to start for a few minutes while you train your mind to work up to longer periods. Each time you notice your mind wandering off you refocus to bring it back to that one point. Let go of any random thoughts. You will find that your level of concentration will improve as you become skilled at letting random thoughts go.
Mindfulness meditation is a bit different and encourages you to be aware of wandering thoughts. Don’t get too involved with the thoughts and why you’re having them but be aware of them and take a mental note when each though arises.
Using mindfulness meditation, you can see how patterns begin to develop with certain thoughts. The more you use mindfulness meditation the better aware you will become of your tendency to judge a situation as good or bad and it can help you to prevent common thinking errors.
How do you begin to meditate
The good thing about meditation and learning to meditate effectively is you can do it just about anywhere at any time. A good way to get started in meditation is a simple breathing meditation. Follow these simple steps:
Find a place that is conducive to meditation
It is crucial to find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted. A spare room in your house or a bedroom where you can close the door and escape your children and dogs for 15-30 minutes is ideal but you can also do this outside in your yard or a park.
Sit down, relax and place/rest your hands on your lap. You can do this on the floor cross-legged (if you’re flexible enough), or use a chair with your feet resting on the ground. No slouching and maintain a natural position. Slouching puts undue pressure on your lungs and can affect deep breathing.
Using your cell phone or a timer, program 15 minutes and hit start. Set the sound on low so you’re not jarred when the meditation ends.
Become aware of your breath as it comes into your body and exits
Close your eyes and take deep slow breaths inhaling through your nose and out through the mouth. When you’re starting your breaths may be shallow until you learn how to take deeper breaths. Try not to force your breathing; let it come naturally.
Count if you need to focus your mind
Count 1 on the inhale and 2 on the exhale or alternately try breathing in for 4 seconds and out for 8 seconds.
Here are a few alternate breathing techniques you can try.
Bring your mind back if it wanders
It’s common at first for your mind to wander off into things you are worrying about or distractions you might hear outside. When you notice you aren’t focused on your breathing, bring your focus back to your breath. Let your thoughts appear but then refocus on the breath. Don’t get discouraged if your mind wanders at first. Remember that this is a training session (a practice) in the same way you train your muscles.
It is important to realize that your mind has wandered and you need to bring your attention back to where you want it focused. The more you do these techniques the easier it will be to concentrate.
When the timer rings bring yourself back slowly
Wiggle your toes and fingers and slowly open your eyes. Make sure to stand up slowly and don’t rush yourself.
Try to do this twice per day. The best times are in the morning after you wake up and right before bed or any other time throughout the day when you are feeling anxious or stressed. Aim for at least 15 – 30 minutes. If you say you don’t have the time that should be a clear indicator that you need to find the time. This is for your well-being and mental health.
There are many apps available in the marketplace to help with guided meditation including some of my favorites:
Learning to meditate effectively can be a life-changing skill. Not only will it help you to relax by reducing stress and anxiety but it can help you learn about yourself and what triggers your emotions and anxiety. These are difficult times we are in and that’s why now more than ever it’s important to take time to work on your physical and mental well-being.
I’ve always had problems getting focused, this post is very helpful!
Meditation has been around for thousands of years and there is a reason why it has survived this long and outsmarted every known condition known to man.
Thanks for explaining the various kinds of meditation and the amazing benefits of it. I find it makes me more introspective, it brings me in touch with myself and allows me to be more compassionate, loving kind and gentle.
I like the fact you have given us the different positions of how to meditate and that is amazing.
Scott thanks for your writing and being real from the heart.
I believe meditation is a wonderful tool to practice, especially in our current global situation. It’s so important to self-regulate and re-calibrate our thoughts and emotions, in order to avoid sending ourselves in a downward spiral of worry and anxiety. This is such a great reminder and also guide on how to start. Cheers!
Another great article, Scott! Thank you.
I don’t practice meditation as a daily routine, but I often do concentration meditation in bed at night focusing on breathing. I didn’t even know the name for it until I read it in your post. I’m not sure if it’s okay to do it lying in bed… But, it works for me as it gets me rid of all day-time thoughts and worries and helps me fall asleep quicker.
Another thing I love doing to shake off the stress is going to a park, forest or ocean shore… I don’t focus on what my mind is occupied with. I may continue thinking about that very thing that caused the stress – it doesn’t matter, because nature takes over the control, and in a few minutes, my stressful thoughts are gone on their own. During the quarantine, I still do it, maybe even more often. Parks are closed, but a few people are there walking, running, meditating and keeping the distance from each other. I believe that we are not causing any more spreading of the virus than those who are going to have “Sunday morning Easter Services” – Grrr! ? Sometimes, I walk fast and count 3 steps on breath-in and 4 on breath-out – also works like a charm for stress relief and relaxation.
I’ve never heard before about the mindfulness meditation. It sounds very interesting, I should try it.
I’ve never felt the need to meditate until the recent crisis. Now, I’ve done it a few times and it’s been very helpful to calm me down, especially first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I usually listen to one of Jack Kornfield’s meditations (on his website), they’re a very manageable length – 10-15 minutes usually. I prefer to lie down while meditating, though.
Whatever works for you Kat!
I could not agree with you more on needing to take all health seriously right now. This post made meditation a whole lot easier and simpler to try because it makes it feel more like it just flows and you don’t have to freak out when you inevitably get distracted. It’s hard to focus thoughts because we are not accustomed to it, but I find mindfulness and concentration meditation helps me to slow down and release my panic depending on the situation.
I use to be a really good sleeper. However, since this epidemic started I have lacked a lot of sleep. Look like Mediating will help.
Great tips! You definitely sound like a pro. I try to meditate each day but I can’t say I am anywhere near mastering it
My dad has been practising meditation for 30+ years and now he’s an instructor too. A lot of your advice is what I’ve been hearing from him too. In a session with him, he first guides us through a relaxation technique for all muscles starting from the feet and going up to the head. This is followed by meditation where he asks us to focus on breathing and a light in our hearts which is pulling us towards it.
I’ve found meditation to be incredibly helpful in calming myself.
I meditate every night in order to fall asleep. I put in earbuds and use Body Scan Meditation to help me relax after a stressful day. I also try to stop and close my eyes throughout the day when I start feeling anxious or angry. Everyone should meditate, but unfortunately, some people think it’s nonsense and refuse to try it!
I was one of those people who thought it was nonsense for the longest time.
I need to give meditation a try! Right now with life slowed down so much, it is a perfect time to give it a go and really learn. I’ll be referencing this post again when I sit down for it later this morning.
Try it you might like it! Especially now.