Time and time again, we hear that meditation has some serious benefits when it comes to maintaining mental balance and enhancing daily performance. So, we've explored exactly what meditation can do to the human body and 5 easy ways to incorporate it into our daily lives.
More often than not, you'll find that those explaining the practice of meditation tend to discuss it as a habit that should be repeated as opposed to a skill that needs to be perfected. Here, by researching meditation we've found that it looks different to everyone. Essentially, meditation is a technique in which we (humans) seek to engage more intently with our mind by focusing on thoughts, breath and simplified movement. It has been linked to controlling anxiety, promoting self-awareness, aiding in memory and focus, even fighting addiction.
Despite looking simple on paper, meditation is no easy feat with many people finding the practice a little uncomfortable at first. This is because no matter how old you are, sitting still and focusing purely on your thought and breath for an extended period requires some serious commitment. So, how do we bring meditation into our daily lives and begin our journey towards becoming a #zenguru?
1. Allocate a time and place away from your usual routine
Often the hardest thing about beginning your meditation journey isn't the act of meditation itself, but allocating the time to do so. We like to suggest closing yourself off in a quiet room of the house. If this is impossible due to external factors like kids or pets, parking 5 minutes away from home after work and mediating in the peace and quiet of your off car (while less glamorous) still works towards the same epic mind-body results!
2. Sit still for two minutes
The act of sitting still for two minutes encourages the brain to think for itself, sounds weird right? But, how often do you allow yourself to stop, reflect and imagine without any external text, media, or individual asking you to do something? Lisa Stanley, director for the Portland Shambala Center explained, "it's important to just be with yourself, slow down enough to know what you're experiencing, to notice the stress in your body or how you're feeling in a given moment." Once you become comfortable with this you can continue to increase your time until you're happy with your length of practice.
3. Focus on your breath
Rather than trying to control your breath, we suggest simply focusing on how your body naturally inhales and exhales. This is a great way to become more mind-body aware as you physically focus on how the mind helps move the body with each expansion of your shoulders, rib cage and belly.
4. Close your eyes
Significantly, it's really hard to focus on yourself when you're looking at other things. This is because the act of sight works as the brain selects and decodes images it receives from the eyes into objects we've come to understand. According to ScienceNordic "the brain receives just three ‘images’ every second, which are sorted and combined with earlier information to create the reality that you experience." This requires a huge amount of energy, so by closing your eyes, you are allowing your brain to take a break from its rigorous decoding work.
5. Write down your intentions
Whether it be in a journal or the notes section of your phone, begin each day by writing down 3 mindful goals you'd like to achieve. These could be as simple as listening more, minimising road rage or asking more questions in class. By setting simple goals at the beginning of the day, you are setting yourself intentions that you can then use to guide your thoughts throughout the day and then reflect on as you meditate.
While the act of meditation and its outcome looks different to each individual, we find the core benefit of meditation is that it forces us to slow down, which can only be positive as it encourages the brain to think and pause, something many of us forget to allow ourselves to do. Remember, meditation is a practice, so don't expect to be good at it straight away!