I don’t have enough time. There’s no way I can clear my mind. It makes me uncomfortable. I can’t do it.
These are some of the most common “myths” I hear surrounding the concept of meditation. The fact is, meditation can dramatically improve your health and your professional self. But, is it right for you? Do you have time? And, where should you even begin?
First, what is meditation and is it right for you? At its simplest form, meditation offers space to completely disconnect from distraction, which leads to greater personal insight. Over 350 scientific based research studies have illustrated the personal health benefits of meditation, including:
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Lower blood pressure
- Enhanced mental health and emotional well-being
- Increased productivity
The practice also boosts memory, increases the ability to focus, visualize positive outcomes, and control emotions–all skills necessary to effectively lead in the workplace and perform in the classroom. Even large employers like Google have taken note and offered meditation classes for their executives.
Emily Bennington, founder of Awake Exec™ says, “Meditation is one of the best, most practical tools for taking responsibility for your own mind.” She states that the practice helps individuals to be less compulsive, impulsive, reactive, and judgmental. Further, Bennington believes that meditation “is a very real tool for the development of leadership presence.”
And, all you need is 2-5 minutes out of your day and a quiet space in your home to get you on your way.
So, how to begin? Let’s debunk the myth that you need to clear your mind. The purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind. You can even use soothing music to do so. Here are some easy meditation styles to choose from:
1. One-point focus meditation: Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take a few inhales and exhales to calm the body and bring your focus to just one thing, like visualizing yourself on a beach. Really imagine the sound of the waves, the sun warming your face, the sand under your toes. You can even play some ocean sounds, too!
2. Guided meditation: Download a short guided meditation on your phone or tablet. These guided meditations are led by professionals in psychology, mindfulness, and yoga, who can lead you through relaxation exercises, imagery, and more. This style is great for those with really “active” minds. Check out the Omvana app for great downloads.
3. Breath based meditation: Here, you will focus all awareness on your breathing. This is the most common form of meditation. Get into a comfortable seated position and focus on your inhalations and exhalations. When a thought comes into your head, acknowledge it, but then bring your attention back to the breath.
For each of these, make sure to set a timer, or pick of piece of music that equals 5 minutes. That’s it. Just 5 deliberate minutes that lead to improved health, focus, productivity, and creativity.
“Regardless of which benefit resonates with you the most, the idea here is to use meditation as a way to move through life with clarity and ease,” Bennington says.
Try practicing at the same time every day to develop a habit. And, it’s okay to have a What am I doing? moment. That’s all a part of the process.