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You Should Be Meditating: The Why and How for Beginners

It's not a fad, and it's more than a Nu Age Movement: Everyone should practice meditation for its health benefits, and our collective sanity.

Everything these days happens with a click of the button. We're busy (though not always productive), stressed, and all too often feel alienated not only from one another, but from ourselves. Self-care goes beyond getting your hair done or downing a glass of wine in a hot bath (but by all means do those things!!). Self-care also involves acknowledging your thoughts, emotions, and your place in the world.

Some of the more scientific benefits of meditation include:

* Reduced stress, anxiety, and stress-related conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and PTSD. Many therapies incorporate meditation and mindfulness for the reduction of PTSD in veterans and survivors of domestic abuse.

* Nearly half the population struggles with insomnia. Meditation can improve quality and quantity of sleep.

* Some studies suggest meditation can improve memory retention and sustainability, including those with dementia and other age-related memory issues.

* Enhances creative problem-solving, self-esteem, empathy, focus, and concentration.

The No Fuss Way to Start Your Meditation Practice:

Two minutes. Seriously.

You can lie down, but I suggest sitting in a comfortable seat or cross-legged position because this promotes alertness, awareness, and mind-body connection.

Make it the first thing you do each day. I like to think of it as a gift to myself.

Use this time to set an intention for your day. Example: Today I will be kind to myself.

Close your eyes if you're comfortable doing so, or soften your gaze.

Simply focus on your breath. That's it. Don't force it, don't try to breathe or think in a certain way.

If you feel antsy, or there's tension in your body, take a deep breath in, breathe deep into your belly, and when you release the breath, release the tension from your jaw, neck, shoulders, etc.

Take a moment to acknowledge your emotions and how you feel overall. We all have crappy days or wake up feeling out of sorts. Don't try to change it, simply let yourself know it's okay to feel however you do, to process your emotions in whatever way you need to.

Your thoughts will stray from your breath. That's okay. It's a practice. Simply bring your focus back to breath. If you're having a case of what Buddhists call "Monkey Mind", count your breaths. Count up to five and start again.

Meditation isn't about obtaining perfection, it's an ongoing practice.

It's not only a practice of mindfulness, it's practicing being gentle and accepting with yourself.

It's about connecting with who you are right in that moment, the glorious and the messy.


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