Imagine yourself sitting quietly in your favorite space. Maybe its your bedroom, or a couch or lounge chair.
Regardless, think of the feeling that you have when you are that space, and you are not in a rush to do anything in particular. You are merely enjoying the act of lying down and not doing much.
A nice thought isn’t it?
That feeling of relaxation is meditation.
How can that be? Isn’t meditation a new age, touchy feely, “eastern” way of clearing your mind, and aligning chakras, and…something?
No, its not. Lets reframe meditation for the 21st century, as its a very charged word that means different things to different people
Meditation is not limited to stereotypical practices in any way. Its understandable how many people are resistive to the idea, as the common view of meditation is a superficial presentation of sitting with your legs crossed and chanting quietly. Or perhaps a person is turned off by it because its described with flowery and vague language that disguises the practical aspects.
Regardless, its undeniably one of the most powerful practical habits a person can create in their lives. And what it “is” is not anything hard to understand at all.
21st Century definition of Meditation
Meditation is anything that relaxes you. Period. That is it. Meditation is an activity of any kind, that creates a feeling of peacefulness and contentment within you.
Meditation is HEAVILY supported by scientific research. There are thousands of studies that have been on various meditative practices, and the overall body of evidence indicates that meditation WORKS.
What are some of the tangible health benefits that have been seen in research?
-Increase in grey matter in the brain
-Increased mental acuity and ability to focus
-decrease in anxiety and nervousness
-improvement in controlling addictive behaviors
-decrease in blood pressure and hypertension
-lowered resting heart rate
-improved cardiac output
-decrease in markers of inflammation within the body
-improvement in total REM sleep
The above is not a comprehensive list either, but you can see from this that meditation holds broad health benefits that together can improve your overall quality of life.
How to Begin Meditating
Because meditation covers so many different practices, it can be very confusing as to where you should start. The following is a hit list of five easy to perform, easy to access meditative practices that you can begin implementing immediately in your daily life. None of these demand that you subscribe to a belief system or study any particular meditation philosophy. They are accessible skills you already have, and applied the right way you can enjoy the benefits of meditation. All of these practices have supporting scientific evidence that substantiates their effectiveness. Pick the one that seem most applicable to yourself, and begin applying it at least once a week.
1. Breathe, 100 times, while counting 100
-This drill is a very simple one, and it originates from a martial arts practicioner by the name of Park Bok Nam, and was taught to me by my good friend Will Chung
To perform this, you sit in a quiet place, and breath in, then breath out, visualizing the inflow and outflow of air. That is One. Then you repeat this until you’ve reached 100. The only “goal” is not to lose count. Simple in design, but incredibly difficult to practice for most people. The drill itself is an exercise in maintaining focus, and relative to the modern world and how many distractions are present internally and externally, this is a challenge
2. Listen to music for 15 minutes, without doing anything else
-Simple, but again, not easy. Turn on music that you find relaxing, and for 15 minutes, listen to it. Dont check your phone, don’t walk around, do not pick up a book or do anything else. Just listen.
Music has been highly studied as having extensive benefits on the function of the brain. Listening to music promotes the formation of new grey matter and neurological connections within the brain. It reduces anxiety, improves focus, sharpens memory, and is preventative for memory loss related to aging
-Now, this may not seem very “relaxing” but exercise has been proven time and time again to improve practically every aspect of physical health, as well as profoundly impact psychological health as well. The key is to find exercise that you “enjoy” doing. This does not mean “easy”, but rather a form of exercise that you reasonably look forward to.
-Walking could be included in exercise, but walking is more an “activity” and is a low exertion one at that. A daily 15 minute walk lowers cardiovascular risk factors by 50%, it promotes longevity, improves cardiovascular health, and as a practice is very easy to incorporate into ones lifestyle.
Beyond the technical though, walking allows the mind to “wander”. It doesnt have to be guided, specific, set to a certain speed. You simply walk for a few minutes, or longer, and you enjoy the experience of doing so.
-Reading may not fall under conventional definition of an “empty mind”, but its effects on physical relaxation and cognitive health are absolutely impossible to deny. Take 15 minutes in the morning or evening to leisurely read, or both. Starting and/or ending your day on a positive tone is an excellent practice for improving your quality of life.
Be the BEST YOU EVER!