Finals are coming up and this can often mean times of high stress. This is why it is so important to find things to do that will help alleviate that stress, such as exercise and getting a good night’s sleep. But perhaps one of the most effective ways to alleviate that stress is through meditation. Not only is meditation practice becoming more and more popular these days, but the practice has been around for so long it’s hard to argue it isn’t a vital part of our existence. For those who aren’t very familiar with the practice, I’ve included a few reasons why you should be indulging in it, as well as a few tips to get started. Sit back, relax and let go.
It’s hard to gauge when meditation began, but most research argues it dates back thousands of years in countries such as India and China. Even then, meditation was considered a sacred and divine form of connection to the Earth, universe and higher spirits. While the means of accomplishing said meditation have changed drastically in recent years, the ultimate goal and experience of meditating has hardly wavered, making it one of the most popular forms of personal power known to man.
Truthfully, the reasons are too many to count, so I’ll stick to the most important ones. When you meditate, you’re essentially letting your busy mind rest and letting go of everything else around you. Therefore, it becomes one of the most effective ways to relieve stress, since you’re able to regulate your emotions and nervous system and, ultimately, take charge of how your body and mind feel in that moment. We’re often so wrapped up in our busy lives we forget to listen and take care of ourselves, and meditation is a great way to get back to that.
Meditation also helps with concentration in your everyday life. It seems allowing your body and mind to be in a state that lets go of everything will help you improve your concentration outside of those moments. Research has even shown it could improve our cardiovascular and immune systems, since when we meditate, we are essentially resting our entire being. This allows the nitric oxide compound in our bodies to open up our blood vessels and allows blood to circulate better, making our blood pressure drop. In turn, this improves our immune system function, and we tend to get sick less. Bigger still, taking care of our minds prompts us to take better care of our bodies, and we will feel more inclined to live healthier, longer, more vital lives.
On a much more Zen level, meditation will generally increase your mood, causing you to feel happier, more well-rounded and, well, more Zen. Feeling happier will provoke you to feel more compassionate, accepting and loving toward the outside world. Meditation has a domino effect that begins with decreasing stress and leads to all of these other benefits I’ve mentioned previously.
Well, I’ve also come armed with a few tips on how to get started in your practice. First of all, you have to make time for your practice. It’s best if you put aside 10 to 15 minutes a day to make it happen, whenever it’s convenient for you. Next, choose a quiet, solitary place to do your practice and get comfortable. Most experts suggest you sit up straight with your legs crossed or lie down on your back, but it’s best to choose a position that’s most comfortable for you.
A good way to start slowing down your mind is to concentrate on your breath. Maybe you could even begin a count-up and count-down series. For example, start with counting one breath in and one breath out, then move up to two breaths in and two breaths out, then three and so on until you reach ten, then count back down to one. This allows you to concentrate on only one thing, shutting down all of the other nuances floating through your mind.
Another great way to learn how to meditate is to listen to guided meditation. These are easily found all over the Internet, especially on YouTube, and can be a great way to condition yourself.
In no time at all you’ll be an expert at meditation, and I guarantee you’ll be feeling happier, healthier and a lot more Zen.