You have likely heard about the benefits of meditating each day. Meditation helps you stay mindful, stay present, and stay grounded throughout the stressors of daily life.
Most meditation advocates say that you only need to meditate for about 10 minutes a day to see the benefits. The positive effects of meditation aren’t necessarily contingent on the amount of time you spend meditating. It is more about the daily practice of clearing and quieting your mind.
My meditation journey started when I was around 12 years old. I started going to counseling once every two weeks to work through issues with my mental health. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at this time.
According to Mayo Clinic, OCD is characterized by unreasonable thoughts or fears that can lead to both compulsive and impulsive behaviors. The experience of having OCD is different for everyone. My OCD usually leads me to obsess over certain thoughts or plans to a point where I feel the need to do something erratic in an attempt to “fix” whatever it is I am obsessing about.
Both my counselor and my mom encouraged me to use meditation to help with my OCD. Meditation can help with reducing stress, increasing focus, and finding an emotional balance. I started meditating whenever my thoughts began to spiral, and it would help me to recharge and reset my mind.
I always knew that meditation was beneficial for my mental health, but I didn’t start meditating every day until I was 18. Isolation due to COVID-19 caused me to struggle with my mental health more than ever, and I needed something I could incorporate into my daily life to promote a more positive mindset.
Daily meditation has helped my mental health in so many ways. It has revolutionized the way I approach stressful situations and it has helped me improve many of my relationships with others. It has allowed me to look at the world in a more open-minded way.
Meditation can help you become the observer of your thoughts and feelings. Instead of feeling thrown around by negative emotions, you can learn to observe them from a distance. This allows you to choose what you want to give your energy to instead of having no control over your perspective.
Meditation also teaches mindfulness. Being mindful of your emotions can help with responding instead of reacting.
When something happens, causing certain emotions, the natural human tendency is to react to those emotions. For example, if someone does something that makes you angry, you may react to those emotions by lashing out at them.
Meditation teaches us to pause in moments of high emotional stress and be mindful of how we are feeling and why. This gives us the opportunity to respond to those emotions instead of just blindly reacting to them. For example, if someone does something that makes you angry, you may respond to those emotions by calmly standing up for your position and then letting it go.
There are several ways to meditate. You can do guided meditation, mantra meditation, movement meditation, or breath awareness meditation, among others. I prefer guided meditation because it helps me stay focused and prevents my thoughts from wandering.
For a short, basic meditation, I usually start by sitting in a comfortable position. You can sit cross legged on the floor or you can sit in a chair. Your hands can rest comfortably wherever they naturally land or you can place them on your knees or your lap. I’ve also meditated laying down, but sometimes it can cause you to get sleepy or distracted.
Next, I usually try to relax my face and body. It helps to focus on relaxing tight points in your face like your jaw or your forehead. Some tight points in the body to focus on relaxing are often the shoulders or the hips.
After I relax, I close my eyes. If closing your eyes causes you to lose focus, you can also keep your eyes open. It may help to look softly at a spot that is a couple feet in front of you.
Once my eyes are closed, I try to focus on my breathing. I usually breathe in while counting to four and then breathe out while counting to four again. The key is to notice your breath and let it ground you by feeling it move in and out of your body. Many guided meditations advise you to breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. However, you don’t have to breathe in any special way, it just helps to focus on your breathing in general.
After focusing on my breathing, I try to release any thoughts that come into my mind. It helps to note the thought that you are having, observe it and acknowledge it, and then let it pass.
You can also set intentions for your meditation if you need to work through something. For example, if I feel sad, I may set an intention to feel happier during my meditation. If I am feeling like the world is against me, I may set an intention to find a sense of gratitude during my meditation.
If you want to start meditating, there are many helpful online resources. Apps like Headspace and Calm are great options because they provide short and simple meditations for beginners. Youtube is also a good platform to find guided and unguided meditations. You can find meditations ranging from one minute long to an hour long on Youtube that are completely free to use.
I believe that everybody should try meditation. It takes practice to quiet the mind, but everyone can benefit from taking some time to focus on the present moment.