For many people, it still sounds like nonsense – that sitting and doing nothing for a certain amount of time each day will make you more productive, less tense, and closer to your true self. But believe it or not, it’s true. Scientific inquiry has shown that meditation not only makes you calmer, more relaxed, and able to concentrate better, but it also helps your brain age more slowly and increase the amount of gray matter in your brain. Meditation is a shockingly simple, yet ultra-beneficial physical and spiritual training of the mind.
Meditation is all about going down the path towards inner peace. However, no matter how much you might want to take this road, it can be extremely difficult for a beginner to sit quietly for hours thinking about nothing and blindly trusting that the process will lead to success, satisfaction, and peace. In order to speed through the phase of uncertainty about the effectiveness of meditation and avoid getting lost in the process, here is a list of the essentials you need for successful mediation.
Set a timer
Before you get started, you need to decide on how long you are going to meditate for. The recommended program is two 20-minute sessions per day, but it is very much up to you to decide what works best, and set a schedule that aligns with your other obligations and daily routine. Once you decide, try to stick to the same schedule and choose a device that will help you plan and time your meditation sessions – many people simply choose to download a mediation app on their cellphone.
Having an “empty mind” requires blocking out all external distractions. Turn off your TV set, phone, and other noisy appliances. If you’re living with family or friends, ask them for some privacy and quiet in advance. It’s important to think of all the possible distractions that you can’t physically eliminate and remember to always bring your attention back to your awareness whenever your mind wanders.
Make yourself comfortable
The most common position for meditating is sitting cross-legged, so you may want to invest in a comfy cushion. Feeling physically uncomfortable will stand in the way of effective meditation, and thus you should also avoid tight clothing and make sure to take off your shoes.
Set up your environment
Choose the location first – a tranquil, clean, and pleasant corner that will be your own little meditation retreat. Since you’ll need your windows closed in order to minimize possible distractions and external sounds, consider getting a plant or a highly recommended HEPA air purifier to improve the quality of the air you’re breathing. No matter what meditating position you go for, make sure you have a comfortable mat, pillow, or cushion. Additionally, you should consider some warm lighting or scented candles to help create a peaceful and cozy atmosphere.
Sitting in one position for an extended period of time can be surprisingly exhausting and burdensome to your muscles, so it is important to release any tension or tightness before you begin. Dedicate a couple of minutes before your meditation to light stretching and focus on your neck, shoulders, and lower back in particular.
Sitting still doesn’t necessarily mean being still. Besides focusing on deep breathing, engage your senses and pay attention to the light, sounds, and energy. Try to remain present in a state of inner alertness, and you will be able to notice and enjoy the silence despite any possible sounds or thoughts lingering in the background.
Stay connected with your ‘why’
Lastly, but most importantly, never forget why you’ve taken this road, what your goals are, and where your desired destination lies. Is it achieving an inner flow, that feeling of being utterly immersed and focused on something? Is it to calm your chaotic mind, or to escape your daily stress? Is to relax your nerves, or to become more productive and procrastinate less? Whatever your why may be, don’t let it wander away, but approach it mindfully and purposely.
Escaping the stress and chaos, which both our minds and bodies are constantly exposed to, is necessary and yet not always easy. Meditation requires patience and constant presence and, when practiced regularly and faithfully, it can lead to a joyful state in which you will be aware of your own mind, and in control of yourself.