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Meditation for Beginners

I was never a fan of meditation. The quiet time to reflect and think seemed to allow all my worries and the stresses of the day to come streaming in, not flowing out. Then, my company starting offering weekly yoga classes, and the yoga teacher taught us some basic meditation techniques. I learned how to tune out my the worries on the inside and focus deeply on the present, centering myself with every breath.

While advanced meditators speak of reaching a higher plane and even having out-of-body experiences, my meditation practice is strictly for relaxing at the end of a long day or the beginning of a day that promises to be stressful. Meditation allows me to center myself, live in the present, and consider the bigger picture. It also lowers your heart rate and decreases your stress levels, and recent studies have shown that regular meditators have stronger brains as they age. Doing nothing, it seems, can actually be incredibly powerful.

So how do you meditate if you don’t have a yoga teacher to teach you? First, find a quiet, comfortable place to sit still with your eyes closed, then experiment with some of these simple techniques: 

Counting

Count backwards from 100, and restart every time you lose your place. Don’t worry about losing your place - just start again from 100. There’s no way to do this exercise wrong.

Visualization

Concentrate on picturing a single, peaceful place. Feel the breeze, the ground beneath your feet, the warm sun or the waves crashing by the ocean. Pay attention to how this makes you feel.

Mantra

Develop a personal mantra like “I am strong” or “I am grateful for…” Silently repeat this mantra and allow your brain to clear as you focus on the phrase.

Square Breathing

Inhale and exhale through your nose, letting the air drag over the back of your throat. Then try to inhale for four counts, hold for two and exhale for four. Repeat for five to ten minutes.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Close your left nostril with your right ring finger, then inhale for four counts (through the right nostril, hold for two (close your right nostril), and exhale for four (through your left nostril.) Repeat for five to ten minutes.

Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, either. Even finding five minutes a day to concentrate on your breath and center your body will help you achieve calm in the stressful, overworked life most of us live. 

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