how to meditate and 5 health benefits of meditation
“Focus one's mind for a period of time”
Is it possible to achieve enlightenment? Is meditation worth doing? How do I meditate? These might be some of the questions going through your head, well I’m not a monk but I do study Buddhism at school and I do have a keen interest in the health benefits of mindfulness so I may be able to to help you with some of your questions!
Buddhism is an endless and ever changing belief and means different things to different people. So let’s start with looking at where Buddhism started, siddartha otherwise known as the Buddha was born in lumbini (today modern Nepal) to a large clan called the shakyas, his father was classed as the leader and Tried to protect his son from suffering, at 29 he realised that this was not the right path for him so one day he travaled to the city and saw an old man, a sick person and a man who past away, this showed the Buddha that we are impermanent, he then saw a man who didn’t seem affected by any of this, these are called the four sights and where Siddhartha’s road to buddhahood began. I’m not going to go into all the details about Buddhism as this blog is predominantly for how to meditate and the health benefits from it! but if you would like to hear more let me know.
The Buddha had a quote that I love, along the lines of “follow your own lamp” meaning find what’s right for you, Buddhism doesn’t have to be a religion it can just be a way of life for some people as we’ve seen in modern western society as meditation has become so popular! There’s also so many different types of Buddhism for example Theravada, Mahayana and zen. So let’s get into the health benefits of Buddhism.
- controlling anxiety : one study found that practicing meditation can lower anxiety levels, phobias and panic attacks.
- emotional stability : Some forms of meditation can also lead to an improved self-image and more positive outlook on life. A controlled study compared electrical activity between the brains of people who practiced mindfulness meditation and the brains of others who did not.Those who meditated showed measurable changes in activity in areas related to positive thinking and optimism.
- self esteem : 21 women fighting breast cancer found that when they took part in a tai chi program, their self-esteem improved more than it did than in those who received social support sessions this study shows that meditation can effect how we percieve the world around us.
- attention span : One study found that it only takes four days of practicing meditation to increase attention span.
- improves sleep : Nearly half the population will struggle with insomnia at some point. One study compared two mindfulness-based meditation programs by randomly assigning participants to one of two groups. One group practiced meditation, while the other didn't. Participants who meditated fell asleep sooner and stayed asleep longer, compared to those who didn't meditate which in turn would suggest a better quality of sleep
How to meditate? Well I was unsure myself at first but then I had many nights reading up on it and have a better idea of what I’m doing! There’s lots of different ways of meditating and it can be dependent on what you want to get out of it, we’re going to go through a technique for beginners.
Choose a conducive environment. Find a nice, quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for fifteen minutes or longer. Sit down, relax and rest your hands on your lap. You can sit on the floor cross-legged with the support of a meditation cushion, or on any chair with your feet resting on the ground. It is not necessary to force yourself into a lotus position if you are not used to it.Regardless of how you sit, it is important to maintain the natural curve of your back. That means no slouching. People with chronic back problems who cannot sit for a prolonged period of time can explore other meditation positions.
Breathe slowly and deeply. Close your eyes softly. Direct your soft, unfocused gaze downwards. Begin by taking a few slow and deep breaths — inhaling with your nose and exhaling from your mouth. Don’t force your breathing; let it come naturally. The first few intakes of air are likely to be shallow, but as you allow more air to fill your lungs each time, your breaths will gradually become deeper and fuller. Take as long as you need to breathe slowly and deeply.
Be aware. When you are breathing deeply, you will begin to feel calmer and more relaxed. That is a good sign. Now, focus your attention on your breathing. Be aware of each breath that you take in through your nose. Be mindful of each breath that you exhale with your mouth. Continue focusing on your breaths for as long as you like.If you find your attention straying away from your breaths, just gently bring it back. It may happen many times. Don’t be disheartened. What’s important is to realize that you have wandered and bring your attention back to where it should be. As you develop greater focus power, you will find it easier to concentrate.
Ending the session. When you are ready to end the session, open your eyes and stand up slowly. Stretch yourself and extend your increased awareness to your next activities. Well done! You have done it!
we challenge you to try this for 30 days
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