When most people think about meditation, they either think of an old man sitting on top of a hill in some far off distant land, or some carefree soul (aka a hippy), who between bong hits, ponders deep within himself the meaning of life. For most of us, however, we sit somewhere on the spectrum between these two stereotypes wondering if we too can benefit from meditation.
Dr. Jean M. Banks pens this recent Wisconsin Rapids Tribune post about meditation benefits and how anyone can use the practice to slow the mind and enjoy peace. According to Banks, meditation is practiced in two easy steps.
Find a quiet place and pick a position that is comfortable for you. Some people just sit in a chair with their back straight and their hands resting on their lap. Others prefer to sit cross-legged on the floor with a cushion under their buttocks. Don’t get bogged down in thinking there is a “right” way to meditate. Initially, just let your body relax and let go of all of the tension. You might want to take a mental scan from head to toe, and instruct each part of your body to relax, one at a time, from your forehead to your toes.
The next step is to focus on the breath or a pleasant word or saying. Some people focus on their breath and pay attention to how it rises and falls. Others like to focus on a “mantra,” which is a word or phrase that brings them peace. Start out sitting for a few minutes, and you will be amazed how busy your mind is, and that is perfectly OK. Just keep bringing your mind back to the breath and gently push away all the clutter that is attempting to distract you.
Read more on stilling the mind and other meditation benefits here.