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Meditation, mindfulness and awareness are buzzwords that seem to be all over the place. But, why are they everywhere right now? What are they all about?

Meditating catVery simply, meditation is a method of training the mind to focus and concentrate.

It may seem like the last thing we need is something else to focus on and take our attention.

However, when in deep concentration, on something specific and steady, the mind is able switch off from the internal and external noise it’s constantly bombarded with.

It helps to give us some space from all the worries, thoughts and emotions we’re constantly subjected to, if only for a while.

How can meditation be beneficial?

Meditation is said to have many benefits including:

  • stress and anxiety relief
  • a more positive outlook on life and towards oneself
  • a reduction in blood pressure
  • an improved ability to concentrate
  • making it easier to live in the present
  • enabling greater relaxation
  • an improved immune system.

How do you do it?

There are loads of books, CDs and online tutorials available with thousands of different techniques and suggestions. Essentially, they all stem from one basic method, concentrating and focussing the mind.

While there are forms of moving and walking meditations, the basic methods are easier when the body is still.

A quick guide to basic meditation

  • find a place where you won’t be interrupted while you meditate
  • sit in a position that’s comfortable for your body, with the spine straight, on a chair, on the floor – however suits you
  • place your hands on top of your thighs
  • it’s important not to move as this will distract you
  • close your eyes and without changing anything, watch your body breathing for a while
  • when you’re ready, start to focusing on whatever it is, your breath, a word or sound you’re mentally repeating (such as ‘om’), or something visual like a dot on the wall, arm’s length in front of you (in which case your eyes will be open)
  • just keep your attention on whatever the focus is
  • if a thought or feeling comes, that’s fine, once you realise your mind has wandered just bring it back to the focus point
  • that’s it!

Little and often is said to work best. So, ten minutes a day is much better than an hour’s meditation once a week.

Also, just be aware that we can be sensitive for a while after meditating. Be careful not to rush into anything straight away afterwards.

What if it doesn’t work?

There’s no such thing as it not working, but you do tend to notice the benefits more quickly when you meditate regularly.

No matter how much meditating someone’s done, their concentration will be interrupted by thoughts. That’s OK. It’s the nature of the mind. The trick is to just bring yourself back to whatever was being focused on once you realise a thought has distracted you.

Some days will be much easier than others and that’s OK too. It’s not uncommon to find meditating really easy for months and then suddenly find it difficult. So don’t worry something like this happens to you.

Haven’t got the time?

It’s said that if you can’t find 20 minutes a day to meditate, then you need to be doing 40 minutes per day! Whether that’s true for you is your own decision.

This article was last reviewed on 03 May 2017

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