How to get the most out of meditation
Quiet meditation takes a lot of patience. Some may agree that it’s difficult to sit down and turn your thoughts off for 15 minutes, while for others, it’s a regular routine that helps them in their daily life. Meditation can take many forms — for instance, running, cooking, reading, or crafts. It’s something that helps you focus on being in the present and clear your mind.
But if you’re curious about quiet meditation, the kind where you sit still and focus on your breathing, well, we are too. We want to know the best methods for meditating, along with its benefits, in order to get the most out of our practice. We spoke with different types of meditation instructors to get well-rounded advice on our journey to a quiet mind.
What is quiet meditation?
Meditation is an experience or exercise that helps bring awareness and compassion to the mind. Practicing meditation is supposed to help you train your mind to be more open and at ease so that it leads to calm, clarity, and contentment. It changes every day based on how we’re feeling, which creates a new experience with each practice.
“Every day our meditation is brand new,” explains Judith Lissing, a mindfulness trainer with Mind Coaching Australia. “Sometimes it’s clear and focused, sometimes it’s restless and irritating. It may be sleepy, wakeful, or enlightened. It may be calm and comfortable or painful and emotional.”
Meditation is not about checking out. It’s about training your mind to handle certain feelings or situations. It’s about acceptance. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is about being aware and in the present moment no matter what you’re doing. So meditation is an intentional practice to learn how to be mindful in your everyday life.
“We practice self-discipline to meditate regularly because life is often uncomfortable — we can’t always walk away from life just because we don’t like it,” says Lissing. “This practice prepares us for life’s downs and ups. We practice being with the mild discomfort of boredom, irritation, or restlessness. This helps train our brain to be able to accept true discomfort when it inevitably arrives on our doorstep.”
Who should try it?
Meditation isn’t exclusive to anyone. It’s simply a practice to help anyone see their thoughts more clearly. Meditation is especially beneficial for those who might experience overwhelming feelings of stress or anxiety. The practice will give you a chance to slow down, focus on your breathing, and discover contentment.
“I believe everyone can benefit from meditation but particularly those who experience high stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, or insomnia. They can use meditation to help manage these symptoms,” explains Heather Currie, certified mindfulness and meditation teacher. “I also believe that young children should be taught (in an age-appropriate way) to learn to meditate and be mindful and to incorporate these skills into their routine and to build their resilience as adults.”
There’s no age limit to meditation. It’s a simple tool that anyone can use to understand pain, reduce stress, improve focus, or connect better with others. It’s all about embracing an open attitude to try it.
When and where is a good place to practice it?
Meditation is something you can do at any time or any place. You can do it when you feel overwhelmed and need time to yourself, or even when you already feel good in order to reflect on why you feel that way. Keep in mind that meditation doesn’t work once and then you’re done. It’s something that should become a habit so that you get the most out of your experience each day. Studies show routine meditation and mindfulness alleviate emotional difficulties including depression, anxiety, and stress.
“Schedule 10-15 minutes of mindful time regularly. The secret is to make these things a habit or ritual during your day,” explains Eugenie Pepper, life coach and founder of Key Mindfulness.
How is meditation beneficial?
“By taking quiet time to meditate and be mindful, you’ll be able to establish calm and wellness in your life,” says Pepper. “Although the benefits of mindfulness and meditation are clear, you can simply benefit from being quiet, taking time out for yourself to soothe the soul and calm your nervous system.”
We can go crazy listing all the benefits of meditation. It really just depends on the person. Countless studies have been conducted on the mental benefits of meditation, which include: reduction of stress, and reduced symptoms of anxiety disorders. It also helps fight depression and addiction. Other benefits of meditation include immune system support, controlled blood pressure, and better sleep. Obviously, meditation is a healthy practice to experience.
“Anxiety is the most common mental health condition. Meditation, mindfulness, and spending quiet time alone can help us manage stress and anxiety and find calm in our hectic lives,” adds Pepper.
Tips for those who don’t know where to start
It can be daunting to sit down and be with your mind. For some, there might be the thought that meditation is difficult because your thoughts just keep wandering. But that’s just it! Being able to recognize when your mind begins to wander is part of the practice! That’s awareness. Try a few different styles of meditation if you don’t know where to start — remember, it’s not exclusive to sitting down and closing your eyes.
“I encouraged people to experiment with different meditation practices so that they can discover what works best for them. For those who find meditation difficult, I suggest easing into it. Start by doing quiet, mindful activities and build up to it,” suggests Pepper.
Pepper explains that mindful activities may include listening to music, playing an instrument, going for a walk, practicing yoga, or enjoying a cup of tea. Make it a goal during these activities to focus on being in the present. In these moments, let a wave of calmness flow over you.
When you’re ready to try silent meditation, it may be helpful to use an app or YouTube to guide you through the practice. Guided meditation will take you through breathing techniques that focus on the breath and supplying oxygen to the brain.
“For beginners, I’d recommend starting off slow and in the comfort of your own home with a guided meditation app. I personally recommend Smiling Mind and Headspace for beginners as guided meditations start off short and slow, teaches the techniques, and builds up the practice,” suggests Currie.
Insight meditation is when you experience a clear awareness of what’s unfolding as it unfolds. Calming meditation is maintaining clarity by using an object of focus (such as your breath). Close your eyes, set an intention, and breathe. Meditation starts by giving it a chance. That acceptance will open the door to mindfulness.