What is meditation?
Meditation involves stilling the busy mind so that you’re only thinking about the present moment and not worrying about what has happened in the past, or what may happen in the future. This brings a sense of calm and reduces anxiety.
Do I have to sit with my legs crossed and chant strange sounds?
No. Simply sitting somewhere comfortable and staying quiet will do, although repeating the same word over and over (a “mantra”) can help because it means you focus on the sound and shut out other noises.
How do I do it?
- Find somewhere quiet where you won’t be distracted.
- Sit (lying down could see you drift off to sleep) in a comfortable position.
- If you’d like to use a mantra, choose a word to repeat – many people opt for positive words such as “love” or “peace”.
- Close your eyes and relax every muscle in your body, from your head to your toes. Aim to feel passive and at peace.
- Concentrate on your breathing, making sure you breathe slowly and deeply. If you’re using a mantra, start repeating it over and over.
- When you find yourself thinking distracting thoughts, imagine yourself gently pushing them away, then return your focus to your breathing or your mantra.
- Aim to sit like this for 10 to 20 minutes. When the time is up, open your eyes and sit still for a couple of minutes before moving.
What health problems can meditation help?
Research shows meditation can lead to improvements in any number of stress-related conditions, including anxiety and depression. It can also lower blood pressure and help ease:
- PainWithdrawal from drug addiction
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- PMS and tension headaches
- Respiratory conditions such as asthmas and emphysema
One US study found people who meditated were 48% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. They also reported that they felt a lot less angry. Meanwhile, another study has shown that people who regularly meditate get fewer colds.