Meditation 101: What it is and how to get started
By: Devinder Kaur, Owner & Director of PranaShanti Yoga Centre
Meditation is a practice that involves focusing or clearing your mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques. Depending on the type of meditation, you can meditate to relax, reduce anxiety and stress or even to create new healthy habits.
The practice of meditation is thousands of years old, and different forms come from around the world. Modern science started researching meditation a few decades ago. With electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans scientists have found that meditation can positively affect your brain and mental health.
Studies on meditation have documented the following benefits:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower heart rate
- Slower respiratory rate
- Less anxiety
- Lower blood cortisol levels
- More feelings of well-being
- Less stress
- Deeper relaxation
Here is a short meditation that you can add to your morning or evening routine, or anytime; because anytime is a good time to meditate!
- Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
- If you are just starting out, choose a short time, perhaps 3 or 5 minutes. You may like to set a timer.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor and let your hands rest on your legs or in your lap. Alternatively, you can sit crossed legged on the floor in a yoga posture known as Easy Pose (Sukasana).
- Close your eyes or do a soft gaze with your eyes half closed.
- Follow the movement of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out. Over the course of the next few breaths try to lengthen the depth of your inhale and then slow down the speed of your exhale. Take your time.
- Your attention will move off the breath and wander to other thoughts. That’s ok! When you notice that happens, simply bring your attention back to your breath.
After a few minutes, gently open your eyes or lift your gaze. Take a moment to notice how you feel and notice your thoughts and emotions. Meditation isn’t always easy but it has truly amazing benefits, and you can start today, and continue for the rest of your life.