Meditation can help you get better results in any area of your life you desire, be it financial success, better relationships, less stress or a better body. Whilst it is self-evident that intelligently designed diet and training can positively transform human physiology there is compelling evidence that certain types of meditation practices can re-model your brain and change your DNA for the better.
Forget the image of the reclusive mystic on the mountainside – although if that’s your ideal more power to you – brief daily meditation is the not so secret weapon of celebrities, athletes, elite military and high-flying business professionals who want to excel at everything they do.
Describing the benefits of a consistent meditation practice in detail is really an article in itself. My purpose presently is to provide you with a clear way to experience the benefits for yourself.
WHAT IS EFFECTIVE MEDITATION?
Whilst there are a number of practices that can be loosely classified as meditation, the type that actually produces the results we are pursuing are simple to describe. Anchor your consciousness to one object and keep it there. The object of concentration can be anything from a mantra, an image or, my personal favorite, the breath.
By fixing your attention to one thing you effectively begin to still your mind leading your brain and body to seek coherence. All the positive changes in physiology and behavior stem from this point. The simplicity, however, is a bit misleading. Distraction occurs almost immediately and you become increasingly aware of the constant mental chatter that goes on in your head.
Generally speaking this is why most people decide not to pursue meditation. They assume either they have no innate talent for it or that it is too hard. If this is the case, remember that meditation is really no different from cultivating any skill. Expecting to be an expert from the get go is like anticipating you’ll break a world record the first time you start running.
HOW TO DO IT
In this meditation we will be using the breath as an object of concentration. Don't be fooled by its simplicity, this is one of the most basic yet fundamentally effective practices you can perform.
Using the breath as an object for concentration has a number of distinct advantages. Apart from being accessible to anyone at anytime, it is an obvious middle ground between our conscious and subconscious processes.
You can observe this relationship if you become aware of your breath right now. Notice how it’s just doing its own thing below the level of conscious awareness. However, unlike other autonomic processes like your heartbeat or growing your hair you can directly influence your breath. You can hold it, change its rhythm or just allow your subconscious to do the job for you. Try doing that with your hair!
* Find a place where you will undisturbed for 20 minutes. Best times are first thing upon walking or in the evening. If that is not possible just do it when you can.
*Assume a comfortable posture. This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just make sure you sit with your spine erect (no slouching) with your palms facing upwards on your knees. Wiser men ask us to “sit with dignity”. It’s your choice whether you use a chair or sit cross-legged but you must be able to maintain the position for 20 minutes. Don’t lie down.
* Spend a minute or two calming yourself, ensuring you are comfortable and settled. Take several deep but relaxed breaths, allowing your stomach to expand as you inhale. Deep belly breathing will naturally balance your parasympathetic nervous system and relax you. When you are ready set a timer for 20 minutes and begin.
* Gently close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath as you inhale and exhale. Traditionally you focus on the point at the tip of your nose just inside the nostrils. This point is largely arbitrary, it just helps to focus your awareness.
* As you relax and your attention settles on your breath you’ll become aware of the briefest of pauses between the out breath and the in breath. Sometimes this is described as the feeling of a pendulum swinging backwards and forwards.
* Now all you need to do is to GENTLY keep your awareness on this point. Your attitude should be one of relaxed observation, simply watching the breath without any attempt to control it.
* As time elapses your mind will naturally wander, just bring it gently back to the breath without any judgement. Don’t get frustrated if your mind keeps going off on tangents, simply keep gently bringing your attention back to your breath.
* When your timer goes off you’ll want to take a minute or two to bring yourself out of meditation. I usually advise gently rubbing the hands together and then placing them over your eyes before opening them. There’s nothing magical or mysterious about this, it’s just a non-intrusive way of marking the end of the session.
* Open your eyes and your done!
If you commit to doing this everyday for a month I promise you’ll see results that will convince you to continue. These tend to become further magnified over time if you stick with it.
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