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 Five Tips on How to Start Meditation

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To some, meditation may seem like a new-agey, alternative, crystal-ball-gazing style of activity practiced by yogis and hippies. And while those groups do, in fact, partake, the act of meditation has been incorporated into the daily lives of everyone from CEOs, such as Rupert Murdoch, to professional athletes including basketball star LeBron James.

 

The earliest reference to meditation is in the Hindu Verdas, which was published around 1700 BC. The practice was then adopted by Confucian and Taoist China and Buddhist India, among others between the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Today, meditation has expanded outside of religious circles and the “practice of mindfulness,” as it is also known, exists in every country in the world.

 

And while the Eastern health community has known of the benefits of meditation for millennia, Western medicine is now starting to document the positive affects of meditation on high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.

 

The best part about meditation, aside from its health benefits, is that it’s easy to do. Anyone can meditate – even if you only have five minutes a day to dedicate to it. Below are five tips to help you get started practicing mindfulness. Try it for five minutes each day for a week and you’ll be amazed at the results!

 

Create space to meditate

#1. Create a space in your life to practice

This doesn’t mean just creating a physical space – in fact, it’s more important to create the time “space” for it. Anyone can meditate anywhere, whether it’s at your desk, on the airplane or in your living room. But the hardest part about meditation is actually putting aside the time to do it. The good news is that all you need is five minutes a day at the start. (See point #4.)

 

Find something to hold your concentration

#2. Concentrate on something that can hold your attention

Religious individuals use items such as rosary beads or mantras such as repeating “Om” to focus their attention but, really, anything can be used: it can be visual like a candle flame, auditory like the sound of ocean waves, or physical like the sensation of your breath at the tip of your nostrils.

 

Clear your mind

#3. Notice how thoughts “bubble up” and interrupt your focus

Everyone who meditates experiences interruptive thoughts during their practice, and you will too. Don’t despair. This is just a part of the experience. Just recognized that the thoughts are there and then let them go (without judgement). Then you can return to your point of concentration.

 

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#4. Start with sessions of only 5 minutes

No one expects you to sit for hours on end at the outset – in fact, for most of us our busy lifestyles would make this impossible. Instead, set aside five minutes a day to clear your mind and just focus on one thing to help hold your attention. Again you can be anywhere from your office (make sure to choose five minutes where you’re not going to be interrupted) to your backyard. Spend those five minutes just breathing, concentrating on one thing and acknowledging and releasing those interrupting thoughts. As your power of concentration increases, you’ll slowly be able to dedicate 20 to 30 minutes to the practice, or even longer! It will all become easier with a little practice.

 

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#5. Practice your focus of concentration in other aspects of your life

This is where the practice of meditation gets really interesting – when you apply that mindfulness to other aspects of your life. In fact, this is precisely why professional athletes and business people do meditation; to bring a state of presence into their entire lives. In the case of pro sports player, for example, it allows them to remain singularly focused on their goal, such as putting the ball in the net. But it’s easiest for all of us to start small: for example, notice the texture and taste of your food while you are chewing, or the quality of your thoughts when you’re stuck in commuting traffic. This can eventually bring a state of mindfulness into all aspects of your life and the beneficial results are an increase of the “feel good” hormones (oxcytocin, and seratonin), and the lowering of the stress hormone cortisol. Another results from the practice of meditation is the softening and releasing of our wrinkles and worry lines – it’s like creating beauty from the inside out!
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