Among various New Age therapies out there, meditation is possibly the most well-received even among hardcore scientists. Its benefits run the gamut from reduced stress and lowered blood pressure to even pain relief and improved immunity. The difficult part however is teaching people how to actually do it.
The most important thing that practitioners stress is that the ultimate outcome you want to get out of meditating is “presence of mind”. This means being aware of your thoughts (acknowledging and pushing away unwanted noise) and appreciating the “here and now”. The is the ultimate demonstration of mono-tasking; the opposite of meditation will be having a hundred tabs open on your computer and then switching between tasks every minute.
Meditation for Beginners – Just Run!
Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t necessarily involve sitting for long periods with your legs crossed (hello pins and needles) and subscribing to a yogic lifestyle.
There are in fact many activities that can put you in a meditative state. Some people may use Tibetan drums or bowls as an aid for clearing the mind; many monks and nuns hold on to rosary beads while saying their prayers or meditation.
Mere mortals like you and I however, can become meditative even in the most ordinary activities. One of the easiest ways to meditate is simply to put on your running shoes and go for quick jog – this is really killing two birds with one stone. You come back with a lighter mind AND body.
As you pick up pace, start mentally counting your breaths in sync with your steps. For a start, just concentrate on the counting and try not to think of anything else. If the day’s to-do list suddenly comes up in the mind, that’s perfectly fine. Acknowledge the thought and ask it to wait.
When you’ve gotten into a good rhythm, start to notice your surroundings – the tree that’s going bald from the heat (or cold), the neighbourhood cat meowing, smells from the coffeeshop, etc. Notice your posture – are you slouching or lifting your chest? Is your heart pumping too quickly or just nice?
If you are able to do a fraction of the above, then congratulations you have succeeded in meditating. There is really no right and wrong, and just like everything else in life, practice makes perfect.
If you are not able to run, walking works too. In fact, a 2016 study by Rutgers University found that meditation during running or walking reduced depression by 40 per cent.
Is there anything else I can do besides exercise?
Definitely! There are so many everyday things that can put you in a meditative state or at least centre your thoughts such as:
- Cleaning the house
- Filling up your adult colouring book
- Doing crafts like knitting
- Brushing your teeth (The easiest 3-minute meditation every morning and night to set your intentions and reflect on the day.)
Sounds easy enough? Just try it and tell us how it goes!