Many who don’t understand meditation maybe think it’s mumbo jumbo. But meditation comes in many forms, and not just what you see with monks sitting still. Entrepreneurs, athletes, actors do it all the time. When you clear your mind, visualize your success, your performance, gathering your thoughts, etc. are all forms of meditation.
How does meditation help you perform better in life?
It helps you be more focused, calm, peaceful so you aren’t interrupted by any emotional fluctuations. More importantly, you can learn how to gain more control over your mind and master the art of living in the present.
In 2011, a Harvard research found that meditation can help increase the density of gray matter in the hippocampus of our brains. That part of the brain is associated with the ability of learning, self-awareness, compassion, memory and introspection.
Through mental restructuring of our brains can improve our mental health and sharpen our minds.
The most exciting part is this transformation can be done in only 8 weeks! This number came from an actual study group.
Here’s a shortcut to making meditation a daily habit:
1. BE DISTRACTION FREE
Complete silence is the ideal environment for meditation, but not necessarily a must. Every person is different, so finding what works for you is most important.
Some people find playing light music can relieve stress and help you relax more. Studies have shown that white noise can help lower our stress levels and increase concentration, especially amongst people who are easily distracted.
There are plenty of youtube calming music that can be found, like the one below:
2. POSITION YOURSELF WITH COMFORT
The most popular position you see traditionally is the quarter lotus, where you sit on the floor cross-legged and rest your hands on your lap. Then straighten out your back throughout the process without slouching.
In Chinese martial arts, it’s done through a “horse stance” where they train the legs, but at the same time relaxation of the entire body and mind.
In Western medicine, you will see people laying down on a bed or couch to find momentarily peace. It is important to find the right posture to relax and also finding that optimal comfort for least amount of distraction.
But please be reminded that if you choose to meditate while lying down, you should keep yourself awake throughout the process.
3. RHYTHM IN BREATHING
Just like sports, finding the right breathing pattern and tempo is very important in meditation as it can help with relaxation and concentration.
Softly close your eyes and inhale slow and deep with your nose, and exhale from your mouth. You will know you are doing it right if you feel your diaphragm expanding and stretched.
Because deep breathing is not normal for most people, it will feel a bit mechanical at first. The discomfort will fade as you practice more.
Be sure to aim for longer exhalation than inhalation. And if this is a more difficult task, time yourself in the beginning. 3 seconds in and 7 seconds breathing out.
As a beginning, it’s very hard to get your mind focused in a meditative state. It’s especially hard to build a habit of meditation.
Atlas start off with 10 ~ 15 minutes a day. If it’s too short, you may not be able to zone in and get into your thoughts.
Having a timer really helps, so you don’t keep thinking how much time you have left.
5. OPEN UP YOUR MIND
People have a misconception that we need to empty our minds during meditation. Have you tried? It’s very difficult!
Unless you’re really well trained, it’s not necessary to have to empty out your thoughts. Welcome any thoughts that come in, but accept it without judgment. Be a passenger and view everything as if you are watching a movie. Be opened towards any thoughts, emotions that come your way, even if it is negative such as frustration, anger, anxiety, that seep into your mind.
Don’t avoid, but learn to understand them and how they were formed.
Remember, the ultimate goal of meditation is to understand yourself more to allow greater control of your mind.
6. A GUIDE OR MENTOR
Meditation is very boring, especially for our fast paced society. Beginners often find themselves lost without proper guidance.
Having a mentor or experienced friend really helps this process. And if you can’t find anyone, not to worry! There are plenty of audio guides available for free online which provide a step by step instruction into your first meditative journey.
By zoning in on what the instructors has to say, you can shut out any other mental distractions and focus in on those simple instructions.
COMMON TOOLS THAT ARE USED IN MEDITATION:
As mentioned, helps ease the mind
2. Prayer bead necklaces
Helps focus when counting the beads.
3. Meditation bead bracelets
For more of a spiritual matter, it brings an energy that circulates the body for calming and relaxing effects.
Sight, sensory, smell are all distractions to us. Having a comfort of smell may ease your body into comfort.
Nature has always been a relaxing place for most people.