When most of us hear the word meditation what often comes to mind is people chanting in the lotus position with lots of incense burning. While that is one way to meditate it’s not the only way. The actual definition of meditation is “To empty ones mind or to bring ones concentration to a single thought in order to aid mental or spiritual development”, and while that sounds pretty simple meditation can be difficult to master. A great yogi once said that the human mind is like a cage, filled with a thousand mad monkeys and the secret to true happiness and health is your ability to quite those monkeys.
The great yogi hints at the fact that mastering (or at least becoming somewhat adept at) meditation has some real physical and emotional benefits and science has proven him right. Studies have shown that meditation and relaxation techniques increase immune function, increase blood flow, enhance energy, lower blood cholesterol levels, reduce feelings of anxiety, increase self confidence, increase mental focus and relaxes the nervous system just to name a few of it’s benefits.
There are many different forms of meditation like mantra meditation (saying a word or phrase over and over), concentration meditation, transcendental meditation and visualization meditation and there are many more. Finding the right meditation practice that fits your lifestyle and personality is the key to a successful practice.
Below is a simple breathing meditation that can be done at home in the park and even a quite conference room at work. It only takes less than five minutes to do and is really effective at calming the nervous system and clearing the mind… no chanting or incense necessary. It’s also an excellent place to start if you are interested in creating your own meditation practice.
This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, it is best to sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of 8.
This is 1 breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle 3 more times for a total of 4 breaths.