Although meditation has been around for thousands of years, until recently it seemed like something that was strictly a spiritual pursuit. Now, so many medical professionals believe in the benefits, many more people are thinking of learning meditation. For better health, and especially to relieve stress, it is a great practice to begin.
There are many research studies out which show the benefits of learning meditation for relieving stress. By meditating and relaxing your breathing, you actually slow down your nervous system. Your whole body and your mind as well relax as a result. With regular meditation, symptoms such as high blood pressure have been shown to improve.
So now that you have decided that you want to learn to meditate, how do you go about it? A little investigation will show that there are hundreds of types of meditation. There is even an organization that has free 10 day meditation retreats. But that is difficult for most people to schedule into their daily routines.
Just paying attention to your breathing is a simple way to start learning meditation. In this form, you do deep breathing, such as is taught in yoga or tai chi. You inhale slowly and deeply, imagining that you can inhale that breath all the way down to below the navel. Exhale just as slowly and deeply, counting each inhale and exhale as one breath. Continue counting up to ten and then go back to one.
By focusing on your breathing, you begin to relax your body and mind. Ideally, when meditating, you are supposed to empty your mind. But in the beginning, this is very difficult and as soon as you think you have to empty your mind, thoughts come rushing in that you have not considered for years. Counting the breath gives your mind something to focus on while you are starting out that will still allow your mind to relax.
Of course, as with many things, the instructions are simple but not as easy to put into practice. The first consideration is putting aside the time to do it. Quiet times are best, which is why it is often done very early in the morning or late at night. Start small, with just ten minutes a day. Get comfortable with those ten minutes before you try to add more. At first even that is going to be difficult but with time and practice it will get easier and you will reap the benefits very quickly.
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