Meditation – how to get started
Meditation is becoming increasingly popular, it can help with stress levels, promote good quality sleep and improve cognition. Meditation and mindfulness can be particularly helpful in periods of stress or crisis. And don’t worry, you don’t have to perform it with a sunset in the background or a scattering of crystals around you!
Meditation is a mental exercise which involves relaxation, focus and awareness. It is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. Eventually, you may begin to better understand your thoughts and feelings as well.
Mindfulness goes hand in hand with meditation. Headspace defines it as the ability to be present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. In teaching the mind to be present through mindfulness we can react more calmly and empathetically when faced with challenges. This is because it teaches you not to “snowball” stressful situations which may arise and avoid blowing things out of proportion in our heads.
The benefits of both these practices are what have made them so incredibly popular in the last few years.
- Increased compassion and reduced aggression
- Heightened levels of happiness
- Reduced levels of stress
- Encourages neuroplasticity to reduce risk of cognitive decline
How to get started
Most first-time meditators find it strange to sit in silence, to sit with their innermost thoughts and feelings, to sit and do nothing. To a beginner, meditation might initially feel a little alien, and you might not know what to expect. This is where the myriad of free online programs and apps can be especially helpful. These programs are led by a teacher and step you through each stage of the meditation.