How many times have you heard someone respond to a question with, “Hmm… I’ll have to meditate on that…”?
Beyond helping to clear the mind and access intuition, scientific studies have found ample evidence of the health benefits of meditation, which include lowering blood pressure, improving emotional stability and responses to stress, and increasing immunity and memory. A notable Harvard-BU study showed that instituting a regular meditation practice of 20-30 minutes a day produces profound results after just 8 weeks.
Of course, that is only the beginning, and the practice has to be maintained in order to see real long-term changes. But the best part is, not only are the effects immediate, meditation is accessible for everyone. It can be squeezed into a convenient time during the day – in the morning before work, over a lunch hour or afternoon break, or at night before sleep – and does not require any complex machinery, complicated procedures or special wardrobe.
In fact, the most basic meditation can be done sitting at your desk or driving in the car – which doesn’t even require you to move! The next time you find yourself getting overwhelmed with a task or just want to focus your attention before launching into the next major item on the to-do list, try this:
- Set your phone aside; turn off any music, screens or other distracting technology, and come to a comfortable seated position with your spine straight. (Note: This can also be done standing or lying down.)
- Place your hands in your lap, either folded or resting on top of your legs.
- Close your eyes and relax your face, allowing any tension to release from it.
- Bring your attention to your breath – just notice the inhale and exhale. When a thought pops into your head, just let it go, acknowledging that your mind will always try to distract you. Concentrate on your breath, following the inhale and exhale. Don’t try to control it. Instead, just let it flow in and out of your nose. Continue this for 2-5 minutes, or as long as you like.
For beginners, the idea of sitting down by themselves, alone with their thoughts and no “real” direction, can be daunting. Fear not, there are plenty of free resources out there to help you get your meditation practice started: Check out books from the library or find articles online, subscribe to a free podcast of guided meditations or find a local meditation group. Experiment with different styles and techniques to see what works best for you.
However you choose to go about it, you can be sure of one thing: any time spent meditating is never wasted.