Health, Life

A Simple Guide To 10-Minute Meditation

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If you are the type of person whose mind is constantly racing due to problems, worries, anxiety and stress, you’re not the only one. Considering that this year hasn’t exactly been an easy one to say the least, thankfully, there are ways to best deal with a mind that seems like it just won’t stop. A huge part of stress relief and overall mental wellness is finding a way to keep the mind calm, get a good night’s rest and improve one’s focus, things that can all be done through meditation.

Meditation teacher and founder of The Infinity Call website, Kelly Morris, explains, “In a world increasingly built on falsehoods, the need to establish an infallible inner GPS is paramount to one’s safety and sanity. Meditation can provide you with the instant reset needed to move forward coherently and gracefully.”

 

So What Exactly is Meditation?

Described by psychotherapist Andrea Parsons, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., “Meditation is the practice of intentionally awakening to our thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the mental space of observance and acceptance.” She adds, “Meditation asks us to be the observer of our thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations rather than the critic of them.”

Parsons shares that having a daily meditation practice will allow our minds to clear by focusing on our inner world rather than the outside one. With so much busyness in the world, people have either forgotten how to take care of their thoughts and emotions, or they are forced to dismiss them rather than to acknowledge them. But practicing meditation is one way to reconnect to oneself since it requires you to focus on yourself and your thoughts.

Being able to truly concentrate on yourself and your innermost thoughts has proven to have both psychological and physical benefits like reducing stress hormones within the body, enhance problem solving abilities and improving the immune system. And if you are not a fan of sitting in lotus position for hours, it might help to know that meditation can look different for many people.

 

There Isn’t Only One Way to Meditate Properly

When people think of meditation, the first picture that comes to mind is usually someone sitting cross legged on the ground with their thumb and middle fingers touching while laying their hands softly on top of the knees. But in reality, there isn’t a “proper” way to meditate. Morris explains, “There are as many ways to meditate as there are people in the world. Much like the proverbial snowflake, everyone is slightly different in their needs, outlooks, and capacities. As such, there is no singular, ‘proper’ way to meditate.”

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Morris also shares that many people are discouraged from meditating because they think it has to be done a certain way, or they need to be learned in a particular philosophy. Other common misconceptions about meditation are that it’s boring, too hard, strange, selfish or even only for those that belong to Eastern cultures. But again, Morris shares that’s just not the case. There are tons of ways to practice meditation and they all range from a beginner level to an advanced form of practice.

Six Main Categories of Meditation

  1. Mindfulness Meditation is the practice of focusing on your thoughts and regarding them without opinion.
  2. Focused Meditation is using the five senses to focus on a particular image, sound, sensation or other objects.
  3. Spiritual Meditation is using the mindful practice to find a deeper connection and purpose in life that involves connecting to something that is greater and vaster than the individual. It is often used in certain religions as well.
  4. Mantra Meditation is as the name suggests, when you repeat a syllable, word or phrase over and over again in meditation.
  5. Movement Meditation uses the body in practices like qigong, yoga or walking, using movement to hone in awareness.
  6. Transcendental Meditation: is also known as TM technique, where participants are given a mantra from a certified instructor that is used to settle an active mind through ‘quieter levels of thought.’

There are still other types of meditation like chakra meditation, visualization, bath meditation and more. Depending on which one best aligns with both your needs and preferences, you’ll be able to find which one will work for you.

 

Things To Think About When Meditating

 Regardless of what level of meditation you consider yourself to be in, your mind will always have the tendency to wander. Morris explains, “For most people, the mind has been trained to be discursive since birth. It’s normal to entertain five or six thoughts at the same time and to even be rewarded for it – the common vernacular is ‘multitasking’. Single-pointed concentration, though, makes the brain happy.”

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Early meditation users get flustered and frustrated easily when their minds begin to wander during their practice. This normally comes from the mindset that to have successful meditation sessions their minds need to be silent. Morris says, “This simply isn’t true, and it prevents many people from exploring a meditation practice that has the capacity to improve their lives on every level.”

According to Morris, thoughts coming in during mediation is completely normal. But rather than attempt to stop them, observe them instead. “Meditators, like everyone else, are forced to think whatever thoughts the Thought Army decides. We are not in charge,” she says.

She continues, “Over time, the meditator realizes that they aren’t thinking, that their thoughts are actually thinking them. We don’t generally choose our thoughts, although we may think we do. It helps to remember that meditation isn’t an effort to ‘not think’.”

When thoughts come in during meditation, Dr. Parsons suggests that you just gently reign in your thoughts by being mindful of your breathing or focusing on a particular focal point like a sound or candle. Morris adds that you can recenter by redirecting your thoughts to the ground beneath you or the sensations you are feeling.

 

How to Start a Meditation Practice

Morris iterates that meditation takes time and practice. She goes on to say, “I’ve found that most people will read an article about meditation and attempt to set down with the best of intentions, but they will only last for a few minutes at most.”

Parsons shares, “To maximize the likelihood of staying with meditation, I recommend starting with three minutes in the morning or night.” She also says, “Gradually, work your way up to more minutes of meditating. Just as an athlete or musician attains their level of skill after years of practice, we need to gradually build our meditation practice.” She also says that patients with a history of trauma should consult with a mental health professional first, because meditation can be worse for some survivors as it can exacerbate their symptoms.

Initially, Morris says to start your meditation in 10 to 20 minute increments at first. She suggests, “If you find a comfortable seated position, one can sit for 10 to 20 minutes. It’s the content of the mind that makes people leap up and decide 10 or 20 minutes is way too long. Beginners who want to explore the possibilities of meditation can engage with this simple guide: Wake up, go to the bathroom, sit down. Don’t check your email, text messages, DMs, social media pages, the news or anything else. Simply wake up and directly sit before the day takes its toll.”

 

What Are the Benefits of Meditation?

Morris shares that just a few minutes of meditation every day can already have maximum benefits for a person’s overall health. She confirms, “Meditation is an endless fountain of benefits and rewards, from improved sleep to reduced loneliness to better skin.”

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It Improves One’s Ability to Problem Solve

When a person is distracted or tired, their ability to problem solve can be impacted. This is where meditation can help by bringing alertness and focus to one’s thoughts and overall being. Parsons clarifies, “Meditation keeps us aware of what is happening in the moment. This allows us to respond more effectively to our environment compared to when our mind is replaying the past or anticipating some type of future loss.”

 

It Reduces Stress Hormones in the Body

Stress causes the body to react by flooding the nervous system with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Parsons explains, “Activation is when we notice a physiological response in our bodies as the result of stress hormones being released, such as heart racing, sweaty palms, upset stomach. We often activate the stress response because of catastrophic thinking or replaying a past upset.” But for those that have a regular meditation practice can actually lessen the activation of stress response, precisely because meditation allows one to remain in the present.

 

It Can Help Boost the Immune System

As for helping boost the immune system, Parsons points out, “Participants of a study who approached unwanted thoughts and feelings non-judgmentally rather than fighting them off showed more activation in their brain’s region of positive emotion. These participants also produced more antibodies when given a flu vaccination compared to other participants.”

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How To Start

If you are looking for an entrance into meditation, there are thousands of resources that can be found both online, and by finding instructors that can lead the way. “Each practitioner has their unique approach, so checking out several resources can help you find the best fit for you,” says Parsons.

Another rich resource is the Insight Timer app. Parsons shares, “I respect their commitment to offering over 30,000 free meditations. I also recommend the Liberate Meditation app, which is a subscription-based app created by and for Black, Indigenous and People of Color.” There are other apps worth downloading like Headspace, Calm and Aura, amongst others.

In the end, the way your mediation practice will manifest depending on you and your own personal likes and interests, which will come from studying and researching a wide variety of meditations that are available to you. Just remember that the early days of practice can be frustrating at times, even difficult. But if you can stick to it, the benefits – both physical and psychological – will definitely be worth all your efforts and you’ll probably find that you cannot spend a single day without at least one meditation practice.