6 Things You’ve Always WantedTo Know About Meditation But Were Too Shy To Ask
Even though meditation seems to be making its way into the mainstream and despite a myriad of benefits, many people are still hesitant to give it a try. We have noticed that the same pattern appears: they simply don’t know what to make out of meditation or how to get started.
In this article we would like to address 6 basic questions that come up for “beginners” and we humbly offer one simple way to get started. We draw from our 5+ years meditating every single day plus scientific evidence.
1. What is meditation?
Meditation is a state of the mind that is relatively free from thinking; the mind is calm and silent, without analyzing or judging.
One meditates so we can bring the mind to that peaceful state and maintain it while we go out and about in our lives.
2. Who is it for?
If you think meditation is not for you or doesn’t seem to work for you, this may be because you haven’t found a suitable technique. Meditation is in fact for everyone, and it is recommended even more so for those whose minds are often scattered, anxious and constantly dealing with negative emotions.
3. Why meditate?
Meditation can improve the quality of your life; three of the most important benefits are:
- It reduces stress and anxiety. A study found that meditation decreased brain cell volume in the areas associated with fear, anxiety and stress leading to improved states of well-being.
- It quiets the monkey mind. We have regions in the brain associated with self-referential thoughts and mind wandering (known as the monkey mind) which are linked to states of unhappiness. Studies conducted have shown that meditation decreases this brain activity.
- It helps you develop emotional competence. Meditation is the foundation to develop emotional competence because it helps you increase understanding of yourself and to become more aware of other people’s energy, facial expressions, body language and the like. We want to point out that more and more studies are indicating that emotional intelligence plays an important factor in success (much more than IQ does actually).
4. How many meditation techniques exist?
Many. Some of the most known are:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Transcendental meditation
- Metta Bhavana (Loving-kindness meditation)
- Advaita meditation
5. Eyes open or closed?
Both are possible, it all depends on what kind of technique you are doing and the context you find yourself in: you can find some alone quiet time to sit down, close your eyes and do loving-kindness meditation, or you can pay special non-judgemental attention to a particular task you are doing during the day with eyes fully open and do mindfulness meditation as you carry out said task.
6. What’s one simple way to get started?
If you’re a beginner, here’s a simple mindfulness meditation exercise:
Have a timer handy so you don’t have to interrupt yourself to check the time. Since you’re beginning, find a place that is quiet and where you won’t be disturbed and make sure to sit on a comfortable surface, with a cushion if needed.
Take 5–10 minute to sit in silence and bring your attention to your in-breaths and out-breaths. When you inhale, notice how air passes through your nostrils and fills up your lungs, notice the movement your belly makes when it receives the fresh air. When your body is ready to release the breath, notice now how the air leaves once again passing through the nostrils, feeling how the belly deflates.
Resist the urge to analyze or judge. Simply observe. Your mind will most likely wander off, it happens to almost everyone and it’s a natural thing so don’t get upset or frustrated, simply acknowledge that there are thoughts in your head, gently let them go and bring your awareness back to the breath over and over again. This is the practice. With time, patience and commitment, you will learn to “reel the mind in” and this is when you will begin to experience what we addressed in question 1.
We must emphasize that in order to reap the benefits of meditation, it is imperative that a sustainable habit be formed; this requires commitment, work and concentration. We compare meditation with going to the gym: when you make a conscious decision to go to the gym, one of the many reasons is so you can strengthen your muscles, right? And you know this won’t happen overnight or in a single session. Similarly, we meditate to strengthen our minds and this won’t happen right away, we must practice, practice and practice. Find 5–10 minutes everyday to meditate and don’t think about quitting just because you haven’t experienced any benefits after a week!
Thomas & Ruth
WEARECO 🌿 | Founders