Meditation can work wonders for maintaining emotional health through stressful times and beyond. Meditation is a great practice for kids and families, too. Discover the benefits plus meditation tips for a basic 5-minute practice you can begin today.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation dates as far back as 1500 BCE, and was practiced in ancient India, China and Japan. Today, it’s popular around the world. There are many ways and reasons to meditate, though the goal is relatively the same: to develop increased awareness of your emotions through focused thinking, with some amazing benefits, including…
- Stress reduction. Deep relaxation can reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone that makes you feel stressed.
- Feeling healthier. Studies suggest that meditation can lower blood pressure and help manage chronic pain.
- Easing anxiety. Meditation enables us to broaden our perspectives, which can help reduce worry and anxiety.
- Better focus. Meditation can help you get distracted less easily while doing other tasks.
- Quality sleep. Meditation can help to relieve insomnia and enhance REM sleep (the sleep state which increases brain activity and consolidates memories, among other benefits).
A Short Meditation for Beginners & Families
There are many types of meditation, including mindful, movement (which can include yoga) and mantra (with repetition of a chosen term). Guided meditations are done with an instructor; many are available online. Below, we describe the basics of a mindfulness practice that you can do at home, starting today.
Meditation Tip: You can print and post these instructions near your meditation space, or softly and slowly read them aloud to children or family groups.
- Get comfortable. Sit on the floor (consider a cross-legged (lotus) position), on a chair, or lie down. Keep your back relaxed but straight.
- Start breathing deeply. Most meditation experts recommend natural breathing, simply paying attention to how the breath enters and leaves your body. (1-2 minutes)
- Close your eyes and relax. Check in with each part of your body and note how they feel: your feet and legs… your stomach… your back and shoulders… your arms and hands… your neck and jaw… your face. (2-3 minutes)
- Continue breathing and enjoy the feeling of relaxing, sinking deeper into the ground. (2-3 minutes)
- Gently bring your attention back to the room. Begin noticing the sounds around you, feel the temperature of the air and sense the light. When you are ready, open your eyes. Get up slowly and quietly. Wait a few moments before you speak.
More Tips for a Beneficial Meditation Practice
- Create peaceful surroundings. Find a quiet room, roll out a yoga mat or towel, light a candle and add few pillows for comfort and support. If the weather is nice, you can meditate outdoors, too.
- Dedicate meditation time. Regular practice increases the benefits of meditation. If you’re a beginner, or meditating with kids, plan for short (5 to 10-minute) sessions a few times a week.
- Leave space for your feelings. You may find yourself experiencing worries or negative emotions. This is normal. Acknowledge them, then try to let them fall away and return your focus to your breath.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing it right. It’s okay. Perfection isn’t important, but consistency is. (That’s why they call it a practice!)
Now you have the meditation tips for basic practice. Take a deep breath and make them your own.