The benefits of meditation are well documented. It can help improve your health and well-being in so many ways.
Here are just a few of the many scientific studies that show some excellent benefits of meditation:
5 benefits of meditation
1. Meditation and a positive effect on the brain and immune function:
2. Meditation and an increased sense of well-being:
3. Meditation and a reduction in anxiety and depression:
4. Meditation and reduction of physical pain
5. Meditation and reduction in high blood pressure:
Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime, and it is completely FREE. So why don’t more people do it?
Meditation is sometimes thought of as some kind of mysterious esoteric practice that is only for deeply spiritual people with beards and long robes, sitting in the lotus position. This is not the case at all.
In reality, it’s a very simple procedure that can be learned in a few minutes and fitted easily into your daily routine.
It’s so easy to get caught up in our busy lives. So much to do… and time seems to speed up as each day goes by. Unless we consciously make a space in our day to start a new habit, it simply will not get done, no matter how good our intentions are.
So it’s important to decide on the right time for you to practice your daily meditation. For me, first thing in the morning is perfect, as it ensures I’ll get it done before the busy-ness of the day takes over.
How to meditate: a simple guide
One of the easiest forms of meditation you can start with is the simple practice of ‘watching your breath’.
To begin, get into a comfortable position. Sit upright with your back straight.
You could sit on the floor cross–legged, or you could use a chair if this is easier for you.
You could even lie down, although if you suspect you may drop off to sleep it may be best to stay upright.
Set a timer for 5 minutes to begin with.
You may think this is a very short time, but you may be surprised at how long it may seem once you get started. Resist the temptation to peek at the time!
Once you feel settled and comfortable, start the timer then close your eyes.
Bring your awareness into your body and start to observe your breath as it enters and leaves the body.
‘Watch’ the breath as it flows in… and out.
You may notice the breath start to slow down as you relax. If it helps, you could say to yourself ‘in’ as you breathe in, and ‘out’ as you breathe out.
Or, if you prefer, you could count each breath. Count up to 4 breaths, then start again at 1.
After a while (in approximately 3 and a half seconds probably…), your attention will begin to wander.
Don’t worry, it happens to everyone. As soon as you notice your thoughts begin to drift away to anything other than your breath, just gently bring them back.
Don’t chastise yourself or decide it’s all a waste of time – just remain patient and say to yourself, ‘oh, look, my thoughts have drifted.. ok let’s get back to the breath now’.
And then start again, watching the breath, saying to yourself ‘in… out’, or counting 1 – 4.
This process will repeat many many times throughout your practice! To give you an idea of how my meditations usually go, here’s a 30 second exerpt:
In… out… in… out… in… ou….did I leave the oven on?… in… out… in…my nose is itchy… in… out… in…out…. feel a bit thirsty.. in..out… in…out… in… what was the name of that guy out of that movie we watched last night… in.. out.. in…out… should have put socks on, my feet are freezing… in … out….take it eeeeeaaasy, take it eeeeeasy.. don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you craaaazy….what a great tune…. in….out…
Do you get the picture? Things will continually pop into your head as your mind tries to resist being ‘controlled’. And it’s OK. Just let those thoughts float on out of your mind and keep patiently bringing yourself back to the task in hand.
Once you establish a routine of this short daily meditation, gradually increase the time until you’re doing it for 20 minutes.
You’ll start to notice the benefits very quickly, with a clearer mind, sharper focus, and a noticeable increase in your general well-being.
This heightened self-awareness has an influence on your whole life, including eating habits, motivation, relationships, and so much more.
If you’d prefer a guided meditation (one where I talk you through it with some visualisations to keep your mind occupied) then sign up to my newsletter and get my online anxiety course – it contains an MP3 with a 10-minute guided meditation included.
Or if you’d prefer to work with me for one-to-one meditation and mindfulness training, then get in touch to make a booking. If you’re outside the Glasgow area we can still work together, using online video such as Skype/Zoom, or via telephone.
Lisa Murphy BSc.(hons), PG Dip. Couns., Dip.C.Hyp/NLP, is a fully qualified experienced counsellor and hypnotherapist based in Cambuslang, Glasgow. Lisa specialises in stress, anxiety, and weight management.