The practice of meditation has been recently gaining popularity and with good reason! It has, in the past, been seen as a practice for Buddhist monks or Indian gurus who will sit in stillness or chanting for hours. And while that form of practice does occur and is wonderful for some, for many finding that amount of time in our busy lives to dedicate to it could be a challenge. To experience the numerous benefits of meditation doesn't require hours of our time. By setting aside as little as 5 minutes of your day you can start to experience the wonderful physiological, psychological and spiritual changes meditation can bring.
Just some of these changes include:
* Reduction in stress levels. It might seem clear that sitting quietly and mindfully can slow you down and reduce stress levels, but it has also been proven scientifically many times. Psychology Today reported that in a study in which participants learned to meditate over an 8 week program they had a pronounced shift in brain wave activity from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left frontal cortex at the end of the study and still maintained that change after four months.
* Reduction in pain levels. Studies have shown that by practicing meditation the perception of pain can be lowered significantly. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2011 found that just 80 minutes of meditation training could cut pain perception nearly in half.
*Increased focus and productivity. Meditation allows you to clear your mind of the thoughts that may be crowding it or running over. This allows space for clearer and more focused thinking.
* Increasing self-awareness and being present. Through meditation you are able to become more in touch with your body and intuition, or "gut instinct".
* Management of illness and disease. It has been well documented that there are many positive reasons for undertaking meditation to deal with stress, disease and illness. The famous Mayo Clinic in the USA states that meditation may help with conditions such as allergies, anxiety disorders, asthma, binge eating, cancer, depression, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain, sleep problems and substance abuse.
There are many techniques that may be used to practice mediation, including using guided meditation tracks, music, and chanting. One of the most simple ways to get started is to find a quiet, comfortable place to sit with your eyes closed, free from any distractions like phones and the television, and to simply focus on your breath. With your mouth closed, breathe in and out and feel your breath it as it enters and exit your nostrils. Allow each breath to be slow, deep and rhythmic. It's okay if thoughts enter your mind. When you become aware of them just let the thought go and return your focus to your breath.
Try this this for 5 minutes, building up to 15-20 minutes a days and notice how you feel. Have your stress levels reduced? Are your reactions to stressful events different? How do you feel about yourself? How are you relationships? Are you more productive? If you need more motivation here are 100 benefits of meditation or see this short, interesting video from scientific researcher Jon Kabbat-Zinn and why he believes we should be teaching this practice to children.