Meditation comes in many different forms and is accessible to anyone who is willing to put aside a few minutes a day. Meditation can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. The most important aspect is to just be present and mindful. Taking a bit of time out of every day to focus on meditation can help calm the mind, soothe the body, and promote feelings of overall wellness.
It is important to remember that meditation should be a permanent part of your daily routine. The ultimate goal is to promote inner peace, but there is no “finish line.” The act of meditation is what helps bring feelings of peace and relaxation. Maintaining a practice can help you feel calmer overall, but every day brings new stress and negativity. Both positive and negative feelings are part of everyday life. The trick is to maintain a meditation practice that can help you better cope with everyday problems.
There is a place for meditation both in nature and in a city. Although it may be hard to imagine yourself freeing your mind of all worries while in the midst of a busy city, there are ways to do so. It is well-known that being in nature can help improve both physical and mental health, and this is a great place to start if you are just beginning a meditation practice. If you can’t manage to get away into nature on a daily basis, there are ways of bringing nature indoors. The simple act of keeping a few houseplants and diffusing essential oils can create a sanctuary right in the comfort of your home.
What Is Meditation?
In a sense, meditation helps change the way your mind works. There are many different forms of mediation, but they all work to encourage a heightened state of awareness. Throughout your meditation practice, you may find that you are less burdened by negative thoughts and are able to better practice mindfulness.
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When meditating, you aren’t trying to turn off your thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, meditation encourages a healthy sense of perspective and allows you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Mindfulness is the ability to let yourself be completely in the present—not burdened by the past, not anxious about the future, but truly present and fully engaged in the current moment. Meditation is a learned skill, just like any other. Think of it as a muscle that hasn’t been used in a while. It may be uncomfortable, even difficult at first, but with daily practice, you’ll learn to appreciate it in ways you never imagined.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and nearly every single religion incorporates meditation into their practice. Even so, meditation on its own can be beneficial without being tied to any religious or spiritual source.
You don’t have to be a yoga-practicing hippie to enjoy and benefit from a mediation practice. Maybe you want to feel less stressed or maybe you’re looking to feel more focused. Maybe you’re trying to improve your relationships with others or boost your own self confidence. There are many reasons to start a meditation practice and choosing to begin can help you radically change your perspective on life.
How Do You Meditate?
One of the most important factors to remember when you first begin meditating is that your mind may become flooded with many different thoughts. Simply sitting cross-legged and closing your eyes doesn’t mean your mind will automatically become a perfect blank slate. You may find that trying to be mindful can make your mind busier and more restless than it usually is. This is completely normal. When thoughts come, let them come.
Although there are many different forms of meditation, it is good to start simple. Don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t seem to be “working” the first time you practice. Meditation is simply that—a practice. The more you meditate, the more benefits you’ll begin to feel. Your mindset will not change overnight, and that’s okay. The trick is sticking with your practice until it becomes second nature.
Follow these steps for a basic meditation:
- Find a comfortable place to sit without distractions. Keep your phone in another room or be sure to turn off the ringer. You may choose a spot on the floor, on a chair, or even on your bed. Sitting cross-legged is optional, but try to sit with your back straight.
- Set a timer. For beginners, 10 minutes is a good place to start.
- Find a spot to focus your vision and then take five deep, slow breaths. Focus on your breathing. Try to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. On the last exhale, close your eyes. Continue these breaths.
- While continuing your breaths, take a few moments to really focus on your body. How do your hands feel on your knees? How do your feet feel on the floor? Acknowledge all of your senses—focus on the temperature of the room on your skin or the way the sun hits a part of your body.
- Once you have acknowledged your basic senses, turn your focus inward. How is your body really feeling today? Are you feeling happy, sad, or confused? Observe any signs of tension or discomfort. Thoughts may flit through your brain—don’t try to change or get rid of them. Simply acknowledge them as they are and let them be.
- Bring your attention back to your breath until the timer rings. Count your breaths, and when you reach 10, start back at 1. It is completely normal for thoughts to interrupt you during this time, but try to let them go and continue to focus on breathing.
When the timer sounds, try not to jump out of your seat and instantly start your next task. Take another 30 seconds to really sit with your body, coming back into awareness of how you are feeling. Try to carry this awareness with you throughout the rest of your day.
While the first time you meditate may be difficult, it will start to get easier with daily practice. Once you find that you can sit for 10 minutes without getting too distracted, increase your time to 20 minutes each day. You can then branch off from there into more advanced forms of meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
Studies have found that a consistent meditation practice can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce stress and anxiety levels, and even help boost immune system function.1,2,3 Daily meditation can also increase your self-awareness, boost your stress management skills, improve your overall wellbeing, increase focus, and enhance memory.
You won’t notice these changes overnight, but you will begin to notice them the longer you practice.
Meditating in the Mountains
Nature is perhaps the best place to meditate, whether you are at the top of a mountain or sitting next to your favorite lake. Mountain mediation has the added benefit of being far away from the pollution and stress of the city. You can simply sit and breathe in the fresh air without being surrounded by distractions. When you spend time in the mountains, you likely won’t have any cell service. This can be especially helpful when beginning a meditation practice because you can practice mindfulness without the distraction of technology.
Choose a place that brings you feelings of peace, and then begin your basic meditation practice there. You can start by really focusing on the nature around you—the feeling of the wind or sun against your skin, the way the grass feels under your legs, and the sounds of the birds and insects. After your 10 minutes, take another minute to really appreciate the moment and the nature around you.
Meditating in the City
Although meditating in the city may seem more difficult than meditating in nature, it can be done. Many people find that the morning is the best time to meditate. It can get you in the right headspace to go through the rest of your day. If you’re meditating in your own home, you can create a space that fosters good feelings.
Create positive energy in your space by letting in natural light or turning on a Himalayan salt lamp. Having a few houseplants indoors can also help create a more peaceful space, and diffusing essential oils can get you into a peaceful state of mind for your practice.
Frankincense, sandalwood, cedarwood, and ylang-ylang essential oils are all great to diffuse when meditating. You may also choose to keep a personal diffuser around your neck to breathe in at the beginning and end of your session. Mountain, Forest, and Ocean can all provide a sense of peace and focus while providing you with some of the scents and health benefits of nature in the comfort of your own home.
Once you have created a positive space, you can then continue on with your 10-minute practice. When you continue on with your day, keep your personal diffuser close so that you can breathe in peace whenever you feel stressed.
Meditation can be extremely effective whether you are in the middle of the wilderness or simply sitting in your own bedroom. Essential oils can be an excellent tool for both meditation and promoting overall wellness. Making meditation a constant part of your daily routine can help you better deal with the stress of everyday life.
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