As a yoga teacher, many people ask me what the benefits of meditation are. Well, I read scientific journals in my spare time and would like to share some of these findings.
1) Meditation improves your brain and immune system functions, says Davidson and colleagues.
2) I know this has been said time and again - yes, meditation reduces your stress levels.
3) It even helps to modulate pain, as Zeidan and colleagues found.
I meditate daily at home for at least 5 minutes. I tried to meditate at odd places, such as buses, flights and even rollercoasters. You heard me right. Rollercoasters. But why do so? I guess I just really wanted to see how much I would flinch. Guess whose photos on the rollercoaster came out with eyes closed? No prizes there, that's for sure! I found myself remarkably calm on a rollercoaster - complete with my heart in my throat as I got flung around in my seat. Recovery from the rollercoaster was better than my past experiences - I tend to walk around with wobbly legs for the next hour after but I suffered no such thing when I meditated on the roller coaster.
Now, how do you meditate? Take the following steps with great purposefulness.
a) Dress comfortably according to season. Turn on the AC or the heater as you need to. There's no point in martyring yourself during meditation.
b) Light a scented candle or use an aromatherapy pot. Pick a scent that adds to mental clarity such as geranium, rosemary or ginger.
c) Put on a nice music piece that you think you'd like. I usually search for 'yoga music' on Youtube. I usually pick this though classical music seems to help me focus better than most other types of music.
d) Sit comfortably on your sitting bones with your legs crossed. Either rest your cradled hands in the space between your crossed legs or rest each hand on top of the knees.
e) Inhale deeply. Close your eyes slowly as you exhale. With deliberation, exhale as slowly as you can. Inhale again once you have exhaled. Repeat.
f) As you sit quietly, find an item that you are grateful about. For example, I celebrated in my head how lucky I am to have certain friends who did some very nice stuff for me. I counted my blessings and took time to be appreciative.
f) Picture a movie screen that you begin to cast images that your brain wishes to see or take action on.
g) Reduce slightly the amount of air that your inhalation draws in slowly and gently.
h) Depending on yourself, you can focus your energy either in the area between your eyebrows or where your heart is. If you are a cerebral or intellect, focus between your brows. If you are a person of emotion, then focus at your heart.
i) Slowly let go of your mental and physical pre-occupations. It is okay to let those thoughts come in to occupy some space and time, but they are not the focus when you are meditating.
To bring your mental focus back,
a) Inhale and exhale deeply in a purposeful and steady pace.