One helpful practice proven to help manage stress is meditation. But have you ever tried it? Do you know where to begin?
Allow us to get you started. Watch minfulness coach and public health expert, Max Oldani, lay out everything you need to know to start meditating today.
Now let’s see if you retained all that information. Here’s a little quiz.
What is Meditation?
Meditating is the practice of using a specific technique like breathing, mindfulness, or a combination of both to achieve a mentally clear and calm state, becoming more aware of yourself and your surroundings throughout the practice.
Like Max points out, it originated in the eastern hemisphere but has since been legitimized globally.
“Thousands of years ago, it originated in the ancient east and made it’s way west over the past few millennia and now we’re in today’s age where it’s become more and more popular and is regarded as a legitimate practice in science.” says Max.
“It can directly impact the way you think and the way your brain functions.”
So, how can you start? Here’s five things to keep in mind.
How to Start Meditating
1. Schedule Time
One of the main blockers to fitness routines is not having enough time to exercise your body or mind between work or school. That’s why scheduling time for meditation is so important if you want to start.
“Making time for this practice, just like making time for exercise or meal planning, is incredibly vital for the success of this practice and for it to become a true habit in order for it to be effective for you.” says Max.
In turn, Max recommends scheduling five to ten minutes a day for meditation when you’re just starting out until you can work up to higher amounts of time. Like Max says, “The more you do it, the easier it gets”.
But, where are you supposed to meditate?
2. Control Your Environment
This one’s up to you. When meditating, you should pick an environment that will allow you to do so without too many distractions.
Max recommends finding a place that’s lit to your liking and is the right temperature for you.
“Make sure that when you meditate, it’s in a place that you feel comfortable” says Max.
Max also points out that using a guided meditation app or video is best when you’re first starting out. From there, you can remember moves or breathing techniques to do on your own as you progress.
3. Take a Seat
This one seems obvious. But when you’re just starting out, it’s important to be specific.
Max recommends finding a cushioned place to sit in a chair or on the floor.
“Making sure you sit in a comfortable position is really the first step before you get into the practice.” says Max.
Breathing is a main component in meditating. In this way, your posture while sitting is incredibly important for breathing.
Max states “Make sure that your chest is up and your back is straight” while meditating.
Now that you’ve sat down, let’s talk about a breathing technique beneficial for meditating.
4. Try Box Breathing
When meditating, it’s important to be practicing what’s known as “belly breathing” or diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing from your core, fully engaging your stomach, helps you get a fuller breath and more air to your lungs.
One technique for doing this is “Box Breathing” as Max lays out.
To perform box breathing:
- Inhale for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
- Exhale for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
Max recommends practicing this for as long as you’re comfortable doing to start. Depending on your capability, you can start with five or ten minutes. But don’t let your thoughts distract you too much while breathing.
5. Be Aware of Your Thoughts But Don’t Dwell on Them
As max points out, thoughts are going to come up while meditating. This is where awareness comes in. It’s important to be aware of what you’re feeling internally and externally but not dwell on your thoughts for too long.
Like Max says, when you have a thought, “come back to the breath”.
It’s important to recognize your thoughts while breathing but to also make your breathing the priority. When disruptive thoughts arise, focus on your breathing.
Take Home Message
Meditation is an effective way to manage stress and anxiety. When meditating it’s important to pick an environment that makes you comfortable.
Guided meditation videos or apps will help you practice when you’re just starting out.
Schedule out enough time in your day to try box breathing or other diaphragmatic breathing techniques — and when thoughts disrupt your practice, focus on your breathing.
Want to learn more about meditation and mental health? Check these out next:
How Mindfulness may help you.
No pseudoscience — just tips from a qualified expert.