Meditation. It’s that thing your aunt does. It’s that thing hippies and vegans do. And now, it’s that thing you do.
Everyone Who Is Anyone, Is Doing It
For the world’s high-rollers, meditation is a cornerstone of their hectic day. From CEO’s to actors and athletes, the best of the best are waking up to the benefits of meditation.
“In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m not Hugh Jackman. I’m not a dad. I’m not a husband. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it.” – Hugh Jackman
Australia’s favourite export describes the practice in a fairly mystical and out-there way. However, when your life is run by endless Wolverine workouts, hordes of fans, and publicists, ‘dipping into that powerful source that creates everything’ sounds pretty tempting.
Founding hip-hop’s hottest label is, assumedly, no easy task. Russell Simmons saw the benefits of meditation in the joyous smiles of children during a trip to South Africa. Overseeing the careers of some of rap’s biggest entertainment juggernauts such as Jay-Z and Kanye West has become a little easier with the help of daily meditation, according to Simmons.
Jackman and Simmons are just two of the many successful people to utilise the benefits of meditation. If you’re not sold by their example, then you’ll be sold by the benefits.
The Obvious Benefits Of Meditation
There are countless clinical studies on the benefits of meditation, and it’s commonly accepted that if you’re a meditator, you’ve got the edge over the non-meditator.
Harvard scientist Sara Lazar has lived the benefits of meditation through her own experience. However, with her study as a neuroscientist, Lazar’s approval of meditation is backed by logic. She’s found that daily practice of meditation primarily affects four key areas of our day-to-day life:
- Focus. Strengthen your mental resolve, helping the mind to wonder less. No more thinking about your next tinder date or what you’ll be having for dinner tonight while reports stack up on your desk.
- Assists in learning new skills, cognitive function, the retaining of memories, and emotional regulation. All obvious wins for every circumstance.
- Increased empathy and compassion. Now we know why the buzzwords of ‘love’ and ‘acceptance’ are thrown in with meditation.
- Lowers stress and directly affects our ‘fight or flight’ responses. The most obvious benefit and the one we hear the most. All of us can do with a little less stress and anxiety. Your body and mind will thank you.
These changes, Lazar found, aren’t metaphorical or spiritual – they’re physical. The above benefits rewire and repurpose our brains. With mindful practice every day, your brain can become better than the day before.
The above benefits speak for themselves. If there’s one positive you take away from meditation it is that you’ll simply be happier. Apart from relieving symptoms of depression, a calm and anxiety-free mind is a better mind. Stress isn’t the devil and without it, the driving force for us to be better might disappear. However, being able to control that stress and repurpose it towards happiness and success rather than depression and anxiety is the key to success. Meditation can be that key and Sara’s TED talk is worth a watch.
How To Meditate
This part is the part that matters.
There are countless schools of thoughts, theories, and practices in meditation; it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. For a beginner, there’s no use in wasting time studying the various methods. They all do the same job of making your life better.
If you want a day-to-day walkthrough of your meditation, apps such as Calm and Headspace offer some limited free trials which can be handy for beginners. However, this how-to will cover the necessary basics to make meditation a strong habit for a successful life.
10 minutes a day, every day. That’s all you need to begin experiencing the benefits we’ve spoken about. But you won’t get Hugh Jackman-levels of mindfulness if you’re only doing 7 or 8 minutes every other day. Set an alarm for 10 minutes so you won’t need to constantly glare at your watch. Time goes slow for the amateur meditator.
So, let’s make this clear:
DO THIS EVERY SINGLE DAY, FOR 10 MINUTES.
Before you know it, you will have formed a new habit. Just like brushing your teeth – but instead of cleaning away dental plaque, you’re cleaning away mental clutter.
Technically, you can meditate anywhere. However, a quiet room will always beat a busy train station.
- Once you’ve found your room, sit on the floor with your back straight. Legs crossed if you can. Rest your hands on top of one another, cradled in your lap.
- Set your head in a neutral position, looking neither downwards or upwards, just straight ahead. Then, to maximise focus, close your eyes.
- Begin breathing deeply through your nose, and only through your nose. In… out…
- With each out breath, relax your body more and more, starting at your forehead and all the way through to your toes.
The purpose of this meditation is mindfulness; that is, the mindful watching of the present. You want to focus completely on your breath. Visualise it entering your nose and travelling deep into your lungs and back out again. Notice how the air feels. Is it an easy breath? Can you make your breathing slower? Cold or hot? Observe the point at which your breath turns from an ‘inhale’ to an ‘exhale’.
Pretty easy, right? Wrong. In no time flat, your mind will wander. ‘What’s for breakfast?’, ‘Why is Mark such an asshole?’, ‘I wonder if I tried really hard at soccer at school if I could have played in the big leagues?’ Meditation has been likened to a bicep curl. Your muscle (mind) is going to resist with every new rep (breath). You have to fight the urge to quit and feel the (mental) burn. As soon as the mind begins to wonder, think only one word: ‘breathing’. This will immediately return your attention back to watching your breath.
Repeat for 10 minutes.
Unlike some of your other first time’s, your first time meditating won’t be quick. Your mind will drift, your nose will itch, and you’ll hear every dog bark within a 20km radius. But each time you return to meditating, your mental strength will increase and within mere days, you will begin to the see the benefits.
Meditating during the morning, alongside the rest of your morning routine, will prepare you for a winning day. However, the most important thing is that you do this every single day. As you become more confident in the practice, make 10 minutes, 15, and 15, 20, and so on. You’ll be a pro in no time, and your mental health will thank you for it.
Check out the Transcendental Meditation website for more information, advice and techniques.