When you hear, or read, the word “meditation,” you might imagine a Buddhist monk sitting in a lotus position, chanting “Mmmm,” you may associate this act with praying or even other religious rituals. However, meditation is more of a discipline, and anyone can practice it, whether you are Buddhist or not. Actually, I think it’s not anyone can practice, but everyone should, and here are the reasons why.
Many studies have been made on meditation since the 1950s, a lot of which were unreliable, however, in 2013 researchers at Johns Hopkins identified 47 studies with reliable results. Those studies showed that meditation does in fact reduce depression and anxiety, the same as the effect of some antidepressants drugs. It also affects the brain on a structural level, people who meditated had a relatively larger hippocampus, which is the brain area that is responsible for storing long term memory. It is also shown to increase attention, but the effects don’t seem to be localised in the brain. In fact, mediation can also help in lowering blood pressure, increasing immunity, and lengthens the telomeres, which are protective proteins at the end of chromosomes that help to protect the chromosomes and lower cells death, thus increasing your lifespan!
The good news is that, if you want to do it, you don’t have to sit in lotus position, nor chant any mantra. The first step is choosing a time and place. It’s better to practice meditation in a scheduled time. I do it everyday at 6:00 pm, you can choose the time that suits you. The place you choose should preferably be quiet. The second step is getting in a comfortable position, you can sit however you like, preferable that you keep your back straight, and you can even lay down if that’s more convenient for you. The third step is to find an anchor, something to focus on and ignore everything else, like repeating a mantra or picturing something in your mind. The simplest thing is to pay attention to your breath and bring back your attention every time your mind wanders with a new thought, which is by the way, totally fine. Meditation doesn’t really mean clearing your mind of thoughts. The last thing you need to know, which you might have already wondered about, is, how long should you meditate? As a start, you can practice meditation for 5 minutes a day, and try to prolong the practice sessions every few days till you reach 15-20 minutes a day. From there, it’s your choice to meditate as long as you can, and want. You can also meditate twice or three times a day! A further notice, you should keep in mind is that meditation will not make you a superhuman, nor cure everything, it’s simply a healthy habit that enhances your well-being.
Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and wander off in your “happy place.” It’s just a nice way to be united with yourself, and “silence” the world around you for a few minutes of inner peace. Do you think you do that a lot? Do you think you need to do that? When was the last time you did it? Tell us in the comment section!