A Little Bit Of Calm In A Crazy World – The Art of Meditation

July 8, 2020


Meditation; we know it’s good for us, but it can seem a little daunting knowing where to start. If you’d like to learn how to meditate but you’re not sure how we’ve got good news — learning to meditate is easier than you think.

Why meditation?

Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. While it is an ancient practice, modern clinical studies have found that meditation can have a myriad of health benefits. Meditation may help relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety, improve concentration and focus, improve sleep, increase creativity and create an overall sense of calm.

Meditation works by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol running through our body, and it encourages the brain to enter a restful and restorative state. It does this through the practice of focusing attention.

For people living with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, studies have shown that a mindful meditation practice can help to manage difficult thoughts and feelings. Alongside support from a mental health professional, meditation is a fantastic addition to the mental health care strategy of people living with mental health conditions.

MORE: Learn more about the art of mindfulness here

How to start meditating

Here’s how to meditate:

Find a comfortable, quiet spot with minimal distractions:

It’s completely normal for there to be some background noise such as a passing car that may distract you — it’s more about finding a space where you feel comfortable enough to sit with yourself.

Choose a realistic length of time to meditate:

First-time meditators may like to start with 3 – 5 minutes. By starting small, there’s less pressure and you can work your way up to longer sessions over time.

Explore what position you’re comfortable in:

Whether you’re sitting on the floor, on a chair or lying down, choose an option that feels good for you. If you choose to sit in a chair, ideally your back is straight, without being too stiff, your feet are flat on the floor and your hands are resting comfortably in your lap.

Choose to practice guided or unguided:

When starting meditation, you may find it easier to practice a guided meditation — this will take the guesswork out of what to do and when to do it. Organisations like Smiling Mind have apps that feature experienced teachers guiding a mediation session.

Close your eyes or hold a soft gaze:

By closing your eyes, you allow your focus to turn inward. If you feel more comfortable keeping your eyes open, try gazing softly at one object. This will still allow you to focus your attention.

Choose your focus:

You might choose your breath as your object of focus – breathe naturally as you rest your attention on your breath, notice the gentle rise and fall of your chest and belly rise as you breathe. Alternatively, you might choose to focus on your body – slowly move your attention through different parts of your body. Or, you could choose to focus on the sounds around you. No one object of focus is better than another. Experiment and see which works best for you.

It’s normal to get distracted:

Remember, it is completely normal to get distracted, whether by thoughts, emotions, physical sensations or sounds. Each time you notice you have become distracted gently bring your attention back to your chosen object of focus – over and over again. Getting distracted doesn’t mean you have stopped meditating, it is part of meditation! Try to be kind and patient with yourself.

Meditation is not about stopping thoughts:

Contrary to what many people think, meditation is not about stopping thoughts – it’s not possible! Instead, we change our relationship to our thoughts. We become less bothered by them and get better at noticing when we’ve become distracted and bringing our attention back to what we are focusing on. With practice your thoughts will begin to settle as you meditate but it’s not something we can force. It’s important to remember that it takes time, patience and practice to meditate. If you don’t feel comfortable right away, it’s completely normal — take a look at your mediation routine and see what areas you can tweak that may make the experience easier.

MORE: Is mindfulness the secret to feeling happier and more positive?

How to make meditation a habit

Just like any skill — like playing the piano or scoring goals in a football game — meditation becomes easier the more your practice. Building up a meditation habit as a beginner is one of the most difficult parts.

Medibank in partnership with Smiling Mind, have some top tips to help you get the most out of your mediation practice:

  • Set yourself a goal: When starting meditation, a short-term, realistic goal is the key to creating a regular habit. Try meditating everyday for a week, and keep resetting and re-evaluating your goals.
  • Challenge yourself: Set yourself a ‘21 day challenge’ with a friend. This will help you create a habit, and practising with a friend will help keep you accountable.
  • Be patient: It’s not about getting it “right”, it’s about doing it consistently. It can be challenging to meditate, but in those challenges are valuable meditation experiences.
  • Lean on the experts: Meditation courses, classes and apps such as Smiling Mind are great at keeping you accountable when it comes to committing to and showing up to your mediation session.

This article has been provided by Medibank the Official Health Partner of Smiling Mind

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