Studies show that meditation is the only activity that reduces blood lactate, a marker of stress and anxiety. The calming hormones melatonin and serotonin are increased by meditation, and the stress hormone cortisol is decreased. An increase of DHEA has also been clinically noted for both men and women who meditate which helps to decrease stress, heighten memory, preserve sexual function and control weight.
Why Meditate Instead of Sleep?
During meditation alpha waves, slow brain waves, increase in intensity and frequency which happens for only relatively short periods during sleep. The alpha state is often referred to as the healing state and many physiological changes occur, starting with the autonomic nervous system which regulates glands and organs.
In the alpha state the parasympathetic system dominates and calms the whole system down. If meditation is practiced regularly enough the many benefits become permanent.
How Long Should I Meditate?
Fifteen minutes really is enough time to make a huge difference to your overall health. The key is to be consistent and meditate every day as there is a cumulative effect although you will start noticing the difference within a few days.
You can use a gentle alarm to let you know when your 15 minute session has come to an end. If your alarm is quite loud then hide it under a cushion so you don't get startled out of your meditation which can be a little unpleasant.
How To Meditate
Set the intention before you sit down. This is very important and something very few do. Create the set up for your meditation by saying something like - Give me a meditation that will deeply relax and refresh me and set me up for the day.
Find somewhere quiet, where you won't be disturbed, and sit comfortably, in loose clothing. You don't need to be in the lotus position or even on the floor, I sit in a wicker sun chair overlooking the sea with soft cushions to give my back some support though not my head as I find having to use a slight effort to stop nodding forward keeps me awake and alert. This helps when I meditate at my usual early time of 5am when I can still be quite sleepy :)
Close your eyes and take a deep breath, noticing the movement of your belly and the feel of the air in your nostrils. Let your shoulders drop and with each in breath say 'breathe' and with each long gentle out breath say 'relax'.
Sit like this, focusing on your breathing, letting all thoughts fall away as they arise, for 15 minutes. You need do nothing more than this.
Do not be hard on yourself if thoughts come thick and fast, this is natural to begin with, just let them go. Watch them. I see them still with mild amusement now which helps to take the charge out of them. Good thoughts are ok to momentarily look at as long as you don't get involved, just smile and let them go.
Concentrating on the feel of your breath and mentally saying a single word helps keep focus. Just let any thoughts that come up drift off, without judgement or concern. Know that you will remember anything that crops up and needs attention after your meditation. In fact you will be in a better position mentally and emotionally to deal with every day things afterwards so be assured that the more urgent any thoughts seem the more you need to let them go and focus on just your breathing.
During meditation you can focus on the rise and fall of your shoulders which sometimes feel like waves. Just lean in and get carried away with any feelings you experience.
Meditation should not feel like a strain. On the contrary, when you meditate you should feel relieved, like a big sigh spreading through your body. Imagine holding a cork under water and then letting it go, letting it bob to the surface, this is what meditation is like, letting go of stress, thoughts, and just allowing yourself to be, carried along with the flow of well being, which is our natural state. Your body is so intelligent, with trillions of cells all constantly striving for health and well being, so all you need to do is step aside and let it do its job.
How To Meditate In Brief
- Sit comfortably
- Close your eyes
- Take a deep breath from your belly while mentally saying breathe
- Exhale slowly while mentally saying relax
- Notice the feeling of your breath in your nostrils with each inhalation and exhalation
- Let any thoughts that arise drift off, don't push them, just let them go
- Continue for 15 minutes
Top Meditation Tips
- Wear loose clothing, you really don't want to be bothered by tight waist bands or restrictions.
- Nice ambient temperature as sitting still for so long can get a little chilly and shivering is not conducive to a restful meditative state.
- A cup of coffee beforehand helps keep me alert, purists my be alarmed at this suggestion though it works for me...
- Music helps to raise the vibration of a meditation as well as being a useful timer if you use a track that's 15 minutes long. It's also useful as a state changer as you will quickly associate that piece of music with a sense of relaxation and meditative calm.
- If you need to use an alarm then muffle it under a pillow, it's not fun being startled out of a deep meditation.
- It's important not to be hard on yourself if you can't clear your mind completely. Nice positive thoughts are better than bad so it's ok if you dwell on good ones for a moment or two.
- If you really have problems clearing your mind then a Tachyon Headband clears all thoughts almost instantly, my Tachyon Meditation Kit also includes a 15 minute Resonant Meditation Music track which is handy for timing your meditation too.
Let me know how you get on and please mail me via the contact form if you have any questions.