The last two years have been kind of… strange. If life were a lava lamp, it feels like someone picked it up and gave it a good shake. When life feels crazy, a meditation routine is a free and simple tool to help calm the brain. What is meditation? It is simply the practice of training your mind to achieve an emotionally calm and mentally clear state. There are many different ways to do it, but its benefits can be huge—starting with stress.
Did you know stress can put your health at risk? That’s right—chronic stress comes with a whole list of unwanted side effects, some of them severe. Chronic stress releases the hormone cortisol, too much of which negatively affects your brain, immune system, and organs. In fact, scientists believe there may be a link between stress and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Other side effects of chronic stress are:
- Weight gain
- Muscle tension and pain
- Sleep disturbances
- High blood pressure
But there is a counter to stress, and it isn’t something your doctor has to prescribe or service you need to pay someone else for. Meditation is an excellent way to combat stress. Regular meditation practice has some pretty amazing health benefits that even meditation routine beginners can reap.
- Regularly practicing meditation helps relieve depression, anxiety, and pain.
- Meditation improves memory and increases attention span.
- Meditation improves sleep quality while helping you fall asleep more quickly.
- Anxiety levels are lower in people who practice meditation regularly.
- Meditation helps reduce episodes of depression.
- Blood pressure lowers over time with regular meditation practice.
How to start a meditation routine
The most important thing to remember is that you only need ten minutes. Yet, one of the biggest obstacles a person faces in beginning a meditation routine is carving out those ten measly minutes from their busy lives.
Make time for yourself
Start by setting a time to meditate. You might:
- Wake up ten minutes earlier.
- Start streaming your favorite TV show 10 minutes sooner than normal.
- Sneak in some meditation right before or after your shower.
You’ve got the time, so use it! Once you’ve carved out that ten minutes and made meditation a part of your daily routine, you will start to notice the benefits.
Make space for yourself
Once you’ve set aside the time to meditate, you need to find the place to do it. You will want a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Find a comfortable position, whether sitting in your big recliner, lying still on the floor, or sitting cross-legged, and begin. Just don’t get too comfortable—otherwise, your meditation routine might just turn into a snooze fest. Set a timer, so you will know when you’ve completed your ten minutes.
Commence project: meditation
Now the fun begins! Sit in your space and clear your mind. Here are some steps to help:
- Get comfortable.
- Close your eyes and begin focusing on your breathing—inhale deeply, and exhale deeply. Do this for about two minutes.
- As thoughts come into your head, let them slowly move away and instead focus on the feelings inside of your body, your repetitive breathing, or the quiet sounds around you. Practice being completely present at the moment, thinking about what you’re doing and feeling. Try to maintain this state for the next eight minutes while focusing on your breath and relaxing.
Guided meditation options
Another great option to learn how to meditate is to find a guided meditation on the internet.
- Headspace is a great app to try, and the first thirty days are free.
- YouTube has hundreds of free meditation options, with meditations that last just a few minutes to some that last hours.
- There are podcasts dedicated to meditation, including the lovely sleep meditation podcast called Tracks to Relax.
Try different meditations and find the one that works best for you.
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