Daily meditation is one of the most valuable activities for your health, productivity, and happiness. There’s a huge amount of research now about its many benefits. Meditation is simple, portable, free, transformative, and much easier than you might think. It’s not boring, or stupid, or irrelevant, or new-agey, or less important than other things, or any of the many things that I have thought about it in the past.
The only thing required to benefit from meditation is to practice it. Every day. And to slowly increase your sitting time until you’ve reached at least 10-12 minute long sessions. If you do that twice a day, even better. But once is enough.
“Daily meditation is one of the most valuable activities for your health, productivity, and happiness.”
There are so many benefits that await the regular meditator, but I’m especially interested in some of the neurological ones. Similar to massage, if you engage in meditation with the right conditions, your nervous system will shift states from the ‘fight or flight’ to the ‘rest and digest’ state. And with that shift into a relaxed state, comes so many benefits.
Today I’m going to give you a basic format to use for daily meditation. It’s very easy, and you can do it anywhere, any time. All you need is yourself, and some kind of timing device (usually your smart phone).
One thing though, I do the app Insight Timer to support me in my meditation practice. And I highly recommend it. I use Insight Timer to time my sessions, and to give occasional bells that help bring me back to the present when my mind wanders.
The following three guidelines support the kind of meditation practice which has been scientifically shown to shift our nervous systems into a relaxed state. It is this relaxed state that promotes healing and regeneration, along with the other benefits of meditation.
- Meditation is a practice and there’s no “wrong or right” in any given session. Meditation is most effective if there’s no particular attachment to how ‘well’ one does with any goals. It’s important to cultivate this attitude of non-attachment when meditating.
- Start small with 2-3 minutes in the daily session and gradually work up to 15 – 20 minutes daily (often it takes around a month to go through this process). Minimum to derive lasting neurological benefits is 10-12 minutes each session.
- During the mediation you will silently repeat a focus word(s) to yourself. Choose whatever focus word(s) that feels right to you. You can experiment with what helps you enter into a quiet, awake state most effectively. Some examples are: “peace”, “om shanti”, “resting”, “nature”, “christ is love”, “may all beings be happy and free”. It’s best to find something relatively short. Pick something that resonates with your worldview, philosophy, or religion.
” Pick something that resonates with your worldview, philosophy, or religion.”
Set-up for meditation
- Choose a location where you won’t be disturbed and there aren’t loud noises.
- Sit in a comfortable position of your choice.
- Notice your breath. Make sure you’re not holding it, you’re breathing easily, and your belly is moving with the breath.
- Set a timer for yourself before the meditation starts. This prevents guessing and checking how long you’ve been meditating.
- Close your eyes.
- Begin repeating your focus word(s) in an easy, gentle, slow way. You will continue this practice throughout the meditation until the timer goes off.
- When you notice you have strayed away from repeating your focus word(s), simply return to the activity. You haven’t done anything wrong. It’s the nature of the mind to wander. It happens to everyone.
- This is important: when your timer goes off, keep your eyes closed for another minute or so, but return to normal thought patterns.
- Then: open your eyes, and remain still for another minute.
- Then: get up and resume your usual activities.
- If you experiment, you’ll find that these last 3 steps make a big difference to your state of mind immediately following the meditation.
Happy Meditating! Let me know if you have any questions.