Mystics, yogis and sages have for thousands of years proclaimed the significance of turning your attention inward to the realm of thoughts, sensations and emotions, also known as meditation.
In modern times the benefits of meditation has taken the world of science, mostly neuroscience, biology and psychology, by storm.
Some of the more notable benefits of meditation are:
- Increased self awareness
- Clarity of mind and overall mental acuity
- Mastery over volatile, negative thoughts and emotions
- Relief from addictions and negative attachments
- Physical benefits like losing weight, less stress and anxiety relief
So what exactly happens when you meditate?
From a scientific and physiological perspective, meditation can literally change the shape of your brain as some studies demonstrate. Eight weeks is enough to see physical changes take place in the prefrontal cortex (decision making), amygdala (emotion), hippocampus (memory) to name a few parts of the brain affected.
From a spiritual and subjective perspective what happens is that you become less attached to thoughts, ideas, “events” and you become more aware of what’s serving your spiritual growth and wisdom. Your sensitivity and eye of discernment increases, your psyche and attention becomes less volatile and wild. You become centred.
That being said, to get things rolling here are eight easy to follow tips that will smoothen your way to establishing a daily meditation practice in your life:
1. Start with 3 minutes a day
Start small. Initially it’s best to not sit down for longer periods of time. If you’re a beginner even 2-3 minutes a day is enough to get your meditation groove in.
Simply make it a habit to collect yourself and consciously look inward to the realm of thoughts, ideas, memories no matter how brief that meditation session is.
You can do this first thing in the morning or during a lunch-break or before bed. It doesn’t really matter. Just take a few moments to look within.
2. Make yourself comfortable
Being comfortable can mean many things but for the sake of simplicity let’s just go with the comfort of your body. In this case you can consider buying meditation tools like meditation cushion, bench, yoga mat or shawl to enhance your meditation. In other words, even if you start small as suggested above, it should still be a comfortable set of 3 minutes.
3. Create a meditation space
If you’re getting more dedicated to your daily meditation practice you can consider creating a space in your home where meditation is the prime goal.
This place should be a quiet place, a place where you won’t be bothered and where you feel meditatively inspired. You could do this either through a minimalistic approach with next to nothing occupying the space itself or you could decorate the room through say a altar/shrine, tealight holders or buddha statues as mindful reminders.
Whatever it is, strive towards making a nice little serene place for yourself where you can just shut off all the noise and troubles of the world.
4. Be aware of your breath
When all things fail, being aware of your breath can be a great way of refocusing and realigning your attention with the present moment. The breath is an effective anchor and reference point as it is always available to you as a living conscious being. Being aware of the breath is a meditation in and of itself, often referred to as vipassana.
It can also be called mindfulness. Simply being present with whatever you do, as you do it.
5. Get creative
Just like the meditation space that we touched upon earlier you could spice things up creatively through accessories that you can wear or use more practically. I’m talking about spiritual tools like mala beads or meditation jewelry like cairn stones, lotus flowers, meaningful symbols in the form of necklaces, rings and what have you.
Finding something that exudes meditativeness that you can have with and on you is a great way of reminding yourself to always be here now.
6. Immerse yourself in nature
I’ve found that by immersing yourself in nature, you automatically induce a meditative state of mind. By making it a habit to refrain from digital technology and spending more time in nature, amidst the greenery, the trees, the plants and animals, you indirectly boost your meditation practice. Healthy outdoor activities like forest bathing is excellent to connect with nature in a meditative and intuitive level.
You could also try a brief meditation session in the midst of the forest or by a lake.
7. Try a meditation app
I wasn’t going to mention meditation apps but for some people it does indeed work. I just recommended to refrain from digital technology, but if you can’t do that, if you’re somewhat addicted, like most of us are, using a good meditation app can be a smart way to use technology for inner work. There are many meditation apps on the market, some are free some are not. Find one that can remind you to be more mindful during the days and that motivates you to prioritize your meditation practice more.
8. Find a meditation friend
Collective meditation can be a very powerful thing. Meditating with other people can open up dimensions you weren’t fully aware of earlier. Even if you can’t physically be near your meditation buddy, simply being aware that both of you share an authentic dedication to exploring your minds through the avenue of meditation could be all that you need.
Moreover when you finally do catch up with each other, there’s so much wisdom that you can mutually share with each other about what you’ve learnt about life and existence itself and yourself through meditation.
Even though some are absolutely convinced that meditation is simply not their cup of tea, looking inward and understanding yourself intuitively can never be deemed wrong or bad, in my humble opinion.
Speaking of friends, I happen to have one or two buddy’s who even when it becomes clear as day to themselves that their own psychological projections and thoughts inflict a certain amount of suffering on them, they still disregard the meditative practice.
I’m guessing that because you’ve come this far in this article you’re a bit wiser than that. You probably know by now that your psychological mind is quite often an unreliable crazy monkey that jumps around everywhere and anywhere without giving you the chance to rest.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everything is bad when it comes to our mental/thinking process, but heck sometimes it does indeed feel like it when we can’t sleep for 5-hours straight at night or when can’t relax when in a completely normal social situation.
Cultivating a daily meditation practice is a great way of growing wiser, kinder and more loving in your life.
Feel free to share your own experiences below!
Daniel Seeker is a lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized deep relaxations of the psyche when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realization. Daniel has meditated & done yogic exercises daily for more than 10 years and is studying history and philosophy at Uppsala Universitet. He is currently finishing writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist, Yogic and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.