Meditation 101: Why and How

I have always been obsessed with self-improvement. At the request of my dad I compiled this information on meditation. I then decided to share it here in hopes that it encourages some of you to give meditation a try. To date, the daily practice of meditation has facilitated the greatest positive shift in attitude I have ever experienced. I believe it can help you as well. 

What: Silently focus your mind for relaxation or spiritual reasons. (4)

WhyPeople who meditate regularly can put a stop to racing thoughts, making them less distracted. By practicing focus when the stakes are low (sitting comfortably for 10 minutes in the morning) you will become better at focusing when the stakes are high (3). See the below info-graphic for more benefits, or check out this site. (1)

Benefits-of-Meditation-Infographic.png

When: Ideally every morning, before your mind is busy and distracted. I usually get dressed and start the coffee maker before sitting down to meditate. This gives me a moment to wake up before the exercise, and catches me before the stresses of the day begin to pile-up. Starting the day from a place of relaxed focus is very beneficial. If you find that mornings don’t work well for you, certainly experiment with other times of day.

How: This is a simple exercise that takes very little time and has nearly no downside. In order to notice any impact it is recommended that you try it for at least 7 days in row. Before that threshold any benefits will be hard to notice and this will likely lead to abandoning the practice (3).

  1. Find a time and place where you can be completely undisturbed for about 10 minutes. Background noise is okay but interruptions are not.
  2. Sit up in a comfortable and dignified way. Place your hands on your legs or in your lap.
  3. Take about 5 deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. With each breath notice how your body relaxes and softens. On you last exhale gently close you eyes.
  4. Allow your breath to return to its natural rhythm, in and out through the nose. 
  5. Visualize your reason for doing this exercise, and who else it may impact. This type of motivation will help to build the habit.
  6. Silently place your focus where you most notice the movement of the breath. This is likely between the belly button and rib cage. 
    1. It can be helpful to count the breaths (1 with the rise, 2 with the fall). However, only count to 10, before restarting your count. This will maintain focus on the breath, rather than the count. If you lose your place, it is not a problem, simply restart with 1.
    2. When your focus drifts, gently bring the attention back to your breath. This is going to happen fairly often, don’t be too hard on yourself. Training the mind takes practice.
    3. If you prefer, you can focus on a mantra rather than the breath by silently repeating it to yourself. (3/4)
  7. After focusing on the breath for a number of minutes (what ever is comfortable) you can now release all focus and control. Let your mind be free for about 20 seconds. 
  8. Finally, bring the focus back to your body and take a deep breath as you open your eyes.
Tips:
  • Do less than you are able to. If you can meditate for 10 minutes, do it for 8. This will keep it from becoming a burden and will improve the likely-hood that you stick with it. (3)
  • Use a timer to let you know when you have reached you mark.
  • Take at least one mindful breath per day. There will be days when you don’t have 10 minutes to meditate. At the very least take one breath per day where you are fully present. This conscious intention to do something positive for yourself is beneficial and will likely lead to a long-term habit. Plus, you always have time to pay attention to a single breath. (3)
  • Silently wish happiness on others. Pick 2 people per day, and in your mind, wish that they are happy. By wishing happiness on other people you will improve your own happiness. Sounds weird but it works. (3)
  • Try Headspace: this meditation app taught me the basics and offers a “take 10” series for free (10 days for 10 minutes/day). (2)

Resources:

1. http://liveanddare.com/benefits-of-meditation/
2. Headspace.com app
3. Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss. (Pages 149-159)
4. http://www.how-to-meditate.org/

I would love to hear what you think of this post, please share your thought in the comments below!

Regards,

-Michael J. Flora

3 thoughts on “Meditation 101: Why and How

  1. Pingback: Hack Your Happiness | mikenhikes

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