Do you ever switch off? No seriously, do you ever shut down your system and take time out to reboot? When was the last time you took just 10 seconds to absolutely relax? Try it out now, it is pretty hard!
In recent times due to the work of people like Eckhart Tolle, The Dalai Lama and Thích Nhất Hạnh taking this little bit of time has become quite popular. Some call it living in the moment, some being in the now and others call it mindfulness. I call it being present, and being present is when you fully immerse yourself in 1 thing, while being fully aware and conscious of the 1 particular thing you are doing.
To be present is to shut out the distractions of the world, like your digital handheld devices, your magazines and television shows, and just allowing yourself to be.
One of the common misconceptions about this state of mind is that you need to have some kind of solitude to achieve it. The reality is quite the opposite, this state of mind is something that is supposed to live with you in the office at work, at home when the kids are doing backflips off of the bed.
While it is quite difficult in the modern world we live in the be exclusively in this deep state of presence, you can think of it almost like a game- You catch yourself reading your text messages while you are in the middle of a conversation, you get a point and stop yourself. You find yourself eating while working at your laptop, you get a point and stop yourself. You find yourself prioritizing your daydream about chocolate over your kids trying to explain what happened at school today, you get a point and stop yourself.
Now in theory this is all very simple, but the reality is that it can be very hard to break habits of a lifetime and this is where practice comes into play.
Meditation is the practice of being present. When you are sitting in the peace and quiet of your own personal space and are able to fully focus on your breath, you are having a practice run for when you are living your day to day life.
Meditation for being present, is like a punching bag for a boxing match. You can try out your moves, throw lots of punches and get a feel for the kind of stamina you need to fight. The difference between the bag and the boxing match is, in the boxing match you have someone trying to punch you in the face repeatedly until you are unconscious.
The same works for life and being present, you are trying to stay within that moment while everyone and everything is trying to take your attention. Meditation is your punching bag, you get a feel for what it is like to be in that moment, but you need to take the skills learnt and implement them in the real world.
Guided meditations are when you have someone guiding you step by step through the process and depending on what you are trying to achieve they may say different things. For example if you are suffering from depression, they may say uplifting things that could help someone who is depressed. If you are trying to overcome addiction, they could have some commands they send to your unconscious mind. That is bordering on the lines of hypnosis, but the 2 are very similar in certain ways.
This is awesome because you need no devices, no support, just something to sit on and if your posture is good enough that thing can be the floor.
- This can be done by sitting up tall with your back straight.
- Relaxing your body from head to toe, focusing on each area and mentally sending it into a state of relaxation.
- Keeping yourself nice and still and focusing on your breath, feeling it flow all the way through you. Being an observer of the breath as it hits the back of your throat, expands your belly, fills your lungs and then is slowly released.
- If your mind wanders, which it will. You refocus, back to the life cycle of the breath.
That is it, if you have a set amount of time you want to do it for, set a timer before hand and keep going until the time is up!
The last way I will speak about is the same as above, but you use binaural beats to aid you. Binaural beats are a frequency that changes brainwaves, they do this by playing 2 different frequencies in each ear and when done at the right frequency it mimics the brainwaves of someone in a meditative state. This is a great shortcut for getting a feel of the deeper states, but it will still require you to sit down and do the meditation, there is no shortcut for that!
Meditation is best when practiced daily and consistently, 5 minute a day is better than 1 hour a week. It has numerous physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health benefits and has plenty of scientific studies that back up it’s benefits such as-
Overcome stress (University of Massachusetts Medical School, 2003)
Boost your creativity (ScienceDaily, 2010)
Improve your sex life and increase your libido (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2009)
Cultivate healthy habits that lead to weight loss (Journal Emotion, 2007)
Improve digestion and lower blood pressure (Harvard Medical School)
Decrease your risk of heart attack (The Stroke Journal, 2009)
Help overcome anxiety, depression, anger and confusion (Psychosomatic Medicine, 2009)
Decrease perception of pain and improve cognitive processing (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, 2010)
Increase your focus and attention (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007
If meditation is not a part of your regular routine, there is no time like the present to get started, I have a free course that can help you get started and you can check that out below!
I am Luke Miller the author of this article and creator of Potential For Change. I believe that spirituality is the foundation for good health and like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life. You can get a copy of Zen Week my free meditation course by clicking here!
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