Meditation is to the mind what aerobic exercise is to the body.
A quintessential training of attention. Getting better control of your attention is the foundation of changing your brain, and thus your life, for the better.
- Lifts mood
- Promotes learning
- Reduces age-related diseases
- Supports the executive functions, self-control, and guiding attention
The best meditation of all is . . . the one you will do. So find what you like and will stick with.Relax. Rest. Come into a sense of presence with yourself. Know whether you are meditating in relationship to something transcendental (such as in prayer) or find something to anchor attention, such as the sensations of breathing, a word or phrase (e.g., “peace”), or an image. Use an anchor that is stimulating enough to keep yourself present; feel free to do walking meditation or use an audio program to guide you. Meditating with others can also help you stay focused.
Start by giving attention fully to the anchor, letting go of everything else. Center in it, becoming absorbed in it, even for just a few breaths or few minutes.
Then, with an ongoing awareness of your anchor, let your attention widen to include your body . . . thoughts . . . feelings . . . wants . . . and overall mental atmosphere. You’re not trying to make your mind blank. Let things come and go, just don’t jump on board of them. Without stress or strain, gently open to relaxing and quieting, and to an increasingly stable presence as experiencing, being a body breathing in peace.
Meditate for as long as you like. Even one minute is good – and ten, twenty, or even forty-five minutes could be even better.
Adapted from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, author of Just One Thing (JOT) – a free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind.