If someone was to ask you what you think of meditation, what would you say?
Something that Monks do in silence?
Something that involves sitting somewhere and chanting ‘om’?
Something that you’ve tried to do but can never stay focused?
For many, their answer would go a little something like one of those above. But the fact is, meditation is about much more than any of these things.
Too many people never experience the benefits that meditation has to offer because they are simply misinformed about the entire process.
But, meditation has the power to completely change your life. No matter what issues you are currently dealing with, there is a good chance that getting involved in meditation could help you find some relief. While it may not heal all diseases, it can certainly help you manage with any health related conditions you may be experiencing.
Let’s get you better acquainted with what mediation is really all about. It’s time to look at the benefits of meditation and answer the question of how do I meditate?
The Benefits Of Meditation
When it comes to the benefits meditation can bring, the possibilities are seemingly endless.
• Lowered stress levels
Stress! It’s something that we all experience from time to time and on an occasional basis, isn’t all that problematic. However, if you are experiencing stress more often than not during your life, you can rest assured the impacts are being felt by your body.
Those who meditate not only decrease their stress level immediately following the act of meditation, but also tend to cope better with ongoing stressors in their life as well.
• Improved concentration and mental focus
Want to gain a mental edge? Meditation may help you do just that. Those who spend time meditating on a regular basis tend to report increased levels of concentration, focus, and mental motivation.
It’s a great way to boost your psychological performance, whether at work or at school. Furthermore, those who meditate may also experience improved memory capabilities as well, so that’s yet another reason to get started with it.
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• Improved fat burning
How can sitting motionless help accelerate the fat burning process? Meditation helps restore natural hormonal balances in the body, so this can help with your fat burning efforts.
How can sitting motionless help accelerate the fat burning process? Meditation helps restore natural hormonal balances in the body, so this can help with your fat burning efforts.
As fat burning is largely determined by the overall hormonal environment you experience, when you can master your hormones to promote the optimal level of fat utilization, you can see far superior results.
Those who meditate may help improve their insulin sensitivity levels, while also reducing cortisol, which is a key hormone that can lead to accelerated rates of body fat accumulation.
Additionally, meditation can also help you overcome emotional eating.
• Accelerated process of healing
What if I told you meditation could increase your rate of healing from injury and/or illness?
Well, it can. Those who practice meditation tend to experience stronger immune systems, which then means the entire recovery process moves along quicker.
Whether you’re down with a cold or have suffered from a twisted ankle, practicing meditation can help you bounce back faster from both of these conditions.
• Reduced pain/inflammation
Along with helping to increase healing from short-term injuries and/or illnesses, meditation may also help to lower the overall level of pain and inflammation present in the body.
This is especially important because today, more people than ever before are suffering from chronic inflammation and the unfortunate illnesses that go along with them.
If you are in pain each day due to a continual state of inflammation, meditation may help to mediate that inflammation, making your symptoms more manageable.
Meditation has been very successful for helping assist those with rheumatoid arthritis for instance, which is a perfect illustration of a disease that is characterized by excessive inflammation.
• Improved mood/less risk of depression
Meditation is also great for boosting a bad mood. Whether you are just having a bad day and not feeling your best or you are suffering from clinical depression, mediation can help.
While you should never use it as a substitute for proper medical care if you are in fact experiencing serious depressive symptoms, it can certainly boost your mood, help you become more positive, and give you a new outlook.
And, even if you aren’t feeling especially depressed, don’t write off meditation entirely. It can still help assist anyone who may be experiencing tension, anxiety, or as noted above, high levels of stress.
Basically, meditation is the perfect anecdote for anyone who wants to boost their mood and lead a happier and healthier life. Many claim that it is one of the best tools to use for emotional healing and letting go of anger.
• Improved social engagement
Who knew that meditation could help you make more friends? While obviously meditation is not going to magically draw people towards you, the fact is, those who meditate do tend to be more social aware so they are in a better position to consider others and interact with them in a positive manner.
Additionally, they tend to be more social engaged when in a social setting.
This is interesting consider most people have the impression that those who meditate tend to be social withdrawn and the ‘loner’ types.
The fact is, it’s quite the opposite. While some quiet individuals will be drawn to meditate regularly, there are plenty of highly sociable individuals who practice meditation on a regular basis.
What’s more is that the more you practice it, the more socially aware and engaged you will tend to be.
Lowered blood pressure levels
Worried about your heart health? If so, that’s another reason to get on the meditation bandwagon.
Meditation can help to effectively lower your blood pressure levels, which then decreases your risk factor for heart related conditions such as heart disease and/or stroke.
Mediation may also help to improve your cholesterol profile as well. With less cortisol running through your system due to reduced stress, this may mean that you have a lower risk of converting the carbohydrates you eat into triglycerides, which then build up in the body and can raise unhealthy levels of cholesterol and lead to plaque formation.
Meditation is often prescribed as a treatment for those who have suffered from a heart attack, so this illustrates just how powerful it can be in terms of boosting your heart health.
• Reduced discomfort with conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
As we noted above, meditation is great for dealing with pain and for managing conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Meditation can help to lessen the pain associated with these conditions, making it easier for these individuals to manage.
Meditation may also help those who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, as it can help them regain some lost energy and also improve their sleep quality at night.
• Improved sleep quality
Which now brings us perfectly into the next big benefit that meditation has to offer – improved sleep quality. Doing 10-15 minutes of meditation before going to bed as part of your nightly routine is an excellent way to improve your sleep quality as well as your duration.
As meditation puts you into a brain state that is actually quite comparable to that of when you are sleeping, it will help prepare you for sleep, allowing you to make the transition to sleep that much easier.
Since sleep is at the cornerstone of just about every single element of good health from improved energy levels to increased memory to managing your body weight, this is a key benefit to not overlook.
The better you sleep, the healthier you are.
Since meditation can help you sleep, there’s no question it will impact you in multiple different ways.
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• Improved circulation
Maintaining proper levels of circulation throughout the body is also important for health and longevity. When your blood is not circulating optimally, your cells won’t be getting the nutrients and oxygen that they need to function properly.
Many people suffer from poor circulation combined with shallow and poor breathing patterns. Stop for a moment and focus on your breathing as you sit there reading this.
Are you taking deep breaths or are they much shallower?
Chances are, they are quite shallow. This is the normal breathing pattern that most people maintain, however it is not one that is optimal for best functioning.
Meditation can help put you in tune with your breathing patterns, allowing you to recognize when you are or are not breathing deeply.
Over time, this could improve your everyday breathing, which in turn leads to improved energy, improved concentration, and a healthier body overall.
Oxygen is essential for life and if you aren’t breathing properly, you simply aren’t giving your body the oxygen that it needs.
• Reduced reliance on alcohol and/or drugs
A sad fact is that many people in today’s society rely on substance abuse in order to cope with hard times during their life. We already noted that meditation can help those who are suffering from depression, but in addition to this, it can also help to boost your resilience to cope and may help you find a healthier way of getting through the hard times.
Studies suggest that those who are engaging in meditation may have a reduced reliance on alcohol and/or drug use.
• Meditation can increase strength and power output
With the combined benefits of meditation improving sleep quality as well as improving breathing and circulation, it should come as no surprise that regular meditation can also improve strength and power abilities.
Athletes who practice meditation tend to recover faster from their training sessions, which means that progress takes place at an accelerated pace and they see improved strength progression over time.
Anyone who leads an active lifestyle who wants to reach their own personal pinnacle of strength and fitness will greatly benefit from including meditation into their lives.
So as you can see, the benefits of meditation are numerous and this isn’t something that you can afford to be missing out on. Everyone can benefit from meditation – young, old, fit, unfit, healthy, or unhealthy.
In fact, the further you are from where you want to be in life, the greater the benefits of meditation for you will be.
Now let’s talk about how you can successfully get into the flow state for meditation and begin your practice.
Getting Into The Flow State
Before we get into the steps that you need to take to begin meditating, it’s important to know what the ‘flow’ state is. You will experience this state when you successfully begin meditating, however it is not unique to just meditating alone.
In fact, many people experience the flow state as they go about their day to day lives, doing a number of the various activities they enjoy taking part in.
So what is this ‘flow’ state?
The flow state is basically any state where you completely lose yourself. You are no longer paying attention to time, worrying about what you have to do later on that day or thinking about past events that took place that are still bothering you.
Instead, you are in the here and now. You are experiencing an ease of activity – whatever it is that you are doing is coming to you very easily, almost without any effort at all.
It may seem magically almost – like you are not expending a high amount of effort, but things are just falling into place as they should.
Athletes often experience this flow state when they are having one of the best performances of their lifetime. Likewise, many artists experience this flow state when they are in the middle of painting, playing music, or doing whatever it is that they do.
This flow state is extremely powerful because it disconnects your brain from all the thoughts that you may normally experience in your every day life. It disconnects you from stressors, which, as you likely already know, take a toll on your well-being.
It basically puts you into a place where you are stress-free, happy, and feeling your best.
Meditation does the same. Meditation builds on this flow state, keeping you there as you perform your meditation.
So what steps do you need to take to mediate successfully?
Here’s what to do to learn how to meditate.
- Find A Comfortable Place To Sit
First find a comfortable place to sit or lay down. Many people find they can get into the flow state easier in a sitting position, however if you find laying down is more beneficial for you, so be it.
Do whatever you feel works best.
It’s important to remember that wherever you are sitting/laying, you want it to be as quiet as possible and free from distractions. This means there should be no loud noises or bright lights around.
Some will find that lighting a few candles and dimming the lights helps ‘set the mood’ to prepare them for meditation.
If you can’t find a quiet environment free from sounds, you might want to consider drowning those sounds out with some steady noise such as the white noise from a fan. This will help to keep the brain focused and centered, rather than distracted each time you hear a sound.
- Close Your Eyes And Begin Taking In Deep Breaths
Once you are in a comfortable position, you’ll then want to close your eyes and begin to take a few deep breaths in and out.
Focus on the air moving into the lungs, them expanding as it does. Hold this breath for a brief moment at the top and then slowly relax and let it out, exhaling until every last bit of air is out of your lungs.
Try and really focus on the movement of the air and how your body is feeling as you do this. Doing so will begin to center your mind.
After the first few breaths of breathing in through the mouth, close the mouth and continue doing this breathing in through the nose instead.
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- Repeat A Mantra (optional)
Next, if you like, you can begin repeating a mantra. Note that this is not necessary, however some people do feel that it helps them get into that meditative state.
Whether you want to chant ‘om’ or use an actual word like ‘love’ or ‘relax’ is totally up to you. Use something that will help keep you in a positive and relaxed frame of mind.
If you prefer not to use a mantra, then simply sit quietly as you continue on with your deep breathing.
- Don’t Force Your Thoughts To Stop
Now you are ready to move into the process of meditation. What you want to do is let thoughts come to you as they may, not trying to get your brain to stop.
As a thought comes, acknowledge it and then dismiss it from your mind. As you do this, refocus your thoughts back on your breathing (or the word you are chanting if you are using one).
Keep doing this for 10-20 minutes, or however long you want to meditate. Most people will be best served by starting with just five minutes and then working their way up to 10 minutes and then going for longer.
Don’t be alarmed if at first, it seems like you cannot stop the thoughts from coming. Very often this is the case. You might spend the entire 20 minutes dealing with one recurring thought or worry.
This is alright. It simply tells you this is a prevalent thing that’s on your mind and happening in your life right now. Others are surprised when memories that they never even knew were on their mind suddenly start popping up while they are meditating.
Again, don’t be alarmed over this. It’s completely normal and natural. The more experienced you get with meditation, the easier it will be to stay focused on your breathing pattern and get into and stay in that flow state without those intrusive thoughts.
- Come Out Of Your Meditation
Finally, once the time has elapsed that you wanted to stay in the meditative state, you’ll want to then come out of it, focusing on your breathing again as you take four to five deep breaths in, just as you did when you first started.
Then once you are ready, slowly get to your feet and continue on about your day. Keep in mind that you may be slightly light-headed at first, so don’t go off doing any strenuous activity right away.
Give your body time to come out of this state before getting back to whatever you were doing. Many people at this point will then go right to sleep as they use meditation as a way to segue into deep sleep.
So there you have the key benefits and facts to know about how to mediate. If you have never included meditation in your life, it’s something that you should strongly consider doing.
What has been your experience with meditation so far? What benefits have you seen? Comment below and let us know.
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