Meditation has become increasingly popular as Americans search for tools to cope with their daily stress. A 2018 report by the CDC found that the rate at which U.S. adults practiced meditation tripled between 2012 and 2017, from 4.1 percent to 14.2 percent. As we emerge from the throes of 2020, it’s not unlikely that this surge will continue to spike.
The increasing popularity and efficacy of meditation have brought it out of monasteries and into the mainstream. But emptying your mind after a long day of work is easier said than done, so you might be wondering how to meditate properly. With proper practice, meditation can empower you to reimagine a healthier, more sustainable life.
In this article, we’ll detail:
- The origins of meditation
- How to meditate properly
- The health benefits of meditation
- How to build an overall healthier, happier lifestyle
What Is Meditation?
There are different forms of meditation, but each form utilizes common elements. A quiet location without distractions, a comfortable posture, a focused attention, and an open attitude form the basis of this mindfulness practice. Meditation is a practice that focuses on how the brain, mind, and body interact. It has become one of the most popular and relaxing self care activities.
Whether you are interested in practicing daily meditation through spiritual meditation, movement meditation, or would like to begin regular meditation sessions to help with anxiety or stress reduction, there are many easy meditation techniques that can help you reach your full potential.
To that end, when learning how to meditate properly, you first need to understand the history of meditation and its various mediums. You don’t need to be a meditation expert to begin your practice, but it’s important to know the roots as well as the basics.
From East to West: The History of Meditation
Despite its increased popularity over the past decade, the benefits of meditation are nothing new. Archaeologists discovered evidence of meditation in wall art in the Indus Valley from approximately 5,000 to 3,500 BCE. The images depict familiar meditation postures, with people sitting crossed legged on the ground with their hands resting on their knees.
Yoga and meditation were both first introduced in the United States in the early 20th century, but their popularity exploded in the 1960s as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught and popularized transcendental meditation.
Now, meditation is one of the most popular alternative health practices in the United States, used by approximately 35 million adults.
Types of Meditation
The term meditation encompasses a wide variety of practices that all focus on relaxation and mindfulness. For instance:
Given that each form of meditation is unique, the methodology changes from medium to medium. In which case, meditating “properly” is dependent on the type of meditation you choose to adopt. Yet, there are general guiding principles that can be, to some degree or another, applied across all forms.
How To Meditate Properly
Learning how to meditate properly is a straightforward process. First, make sure you have hydrated and eaten healthily. It is best to be properly hydrated and to have eaten the best food for brain power prior to your meditation session. If you need information on how to eat clean or any other self care tips, be sure to check out our blog.
Begin by building meditation into your daily routine. Setting aside even a few minutes—on the bus, during your morning coffee, or before you go to bed—will set you up for success. Don’t be put off by the idea that you need to meditate for years to experience its benefits. Start with a few minutes every day and build up from there, or keep it short and sweet.
Developing A Personal Meditation Practice
As we mentioned above, another important decision is what type of meditation you want to practice. Choose a type that best aligns with your goals and needs and then do your due diligence. You’ll find a wealth of tools and information available on the Internet (from meditation apps engineered to help you learn, to experts that break down different meditation mediums).
Find Your Meditation Posture
You might imagine meditation as you’ve seen it in popular culture: a cross-legged posture, closed eyes, with your hands on your knees. However, meditation is flexible and meant to be personalized to you. Before you begin your meditation, you should find a comfortable position, but this can be lying down, sitting up, or anything in between.
Focus On Your Breath
Once you’re comfortable, turn your attention to your breathing and the sensation of your breath moving throughout your body. As you notice your mind wandering, gently return your attention back to your breath. If your mind continues to wander, don’t worry! It’s a misconception that meditation involves turning off your thoughts.
Cultivate a non-judgemental awareness of your thoughts and continue to redirect your focus to your breath. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The key is to build your awareness of the present moment.
Guided Meditations: A Helping Hand
If you’re still struggling with your meditation practice, look for guided meditations. A kind, knowledgeable voice can help direct your focus and extract the most out of your meditation, even if you can only spare five minutes out of your busy day to meditate.
For instance, loving-kindness guided meditations involve sending positive thoughts to yourself and others. Body scan guided meditations, on the other hand, focus on noticing the sensations of our physiological systems.
Benefits of Meditation
With regular practice, meditation can help you unlock a healthier and happier life. The benefits of meditating properly are numerous. Not only is meditation inexpensive, requiring no special equipment, but you can practice it anywhere! That means that you can easily incorporate meditation into your everyday life.
Meditation is also an extremely safe practice in daily life for people of all ages and abilities.
Meditation and the Mind
Meditation can help you support your emotional well-being. This mindfulness practice counterbalances the stress of everyday life and provides a powerful way to manage (or even mitigate) difficult emotions. People who meditate learn to:
- Focus on the present
- Gain new perspective
- Build self-awareness
- Grow their creativity.
Some research even suggests that meditation could physically change your brain and body, ultimately improving your health and vitality. Some of the possible benefits found in certain studies include:
- Increasing the brain’s ability to process information
- Slowing or even reversing the changes that occur in the brain due to aging
- Affecting activity in the part of the brain involved in processing emotions
- Activating areas in the brain that respond to pain
Building A Healthier Lifestyle
Meditation is just one brick in the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. When combined with effective wellness stratagems, you can take a holistic approach to your overall health. Here at Bio-K+, not only do we encourage you to invest in your wellness routine, we help contribute to it.
The Gut Microbiota and Your Health
According to the CDC, the microbial communities throughout your body work symbiotically with you to support your health. Because of this emerging research on the importance of the gut microbiota, many people are now rounding out their healthy lifestyles with probiotic supplements.
To that end, Bio-K+® products are backed by over 20 years of research and made from a clinically supported formula of three unique, proprietary probiotic strains chosen for their synergistic action and efficacy. All of our products are gluten free, and there are a wide variety of vegan, organic, and non-GMO options to help you find the probiotic that can best support your healthy lifestyle.
As you build a more sustainable, mindful routine through practices like meditation, Bio-K+ products can also be used in your healthy lifestyle. Given that our guts are often linked to our gut-brain axis, by supporting them we further our ability to practice meditation, elevate our wellness routine, and discover the serenity we deserve.
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