A new year is upon us and so is the feeling of wanting to start fresh. What better way to start than by taking a deep breath?
How did that feel? Did you feel silly? Well don’t. We breathe all day, every day without even thinking about it. If we take a few minutes of our day to just focus on our breath we can feel the benefits.
There is a lot of things going on around us and it’s easy to get swept away with it. We are constantly bombarded with emails, tweets, Facebook updates, Whatsapp and texts and it’s making it more difficult to actually focus on anything. By focusing on inhaling and exhaling a few times a day, we can anchor ourselves to the core experience of existence.
This is meditation. Meditation when practiced everyday can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can also increase well-being, attention and creativity.
Bare bones meditation is simple and can be practiced wherever you can find a comfortable place to sit. Close you eyes and start breathing. When you inhale, count one. When you exhale, count two. Do this until you reach ten. Then start over. Your mind will drift off but that’s fine. When you notice, just start counting again. I’d recommend setting a timer as well. Personally I aim to practice meditation for ten minutes a day and have felt the benefits over the years that I’ve done it.
There are apps out there to help with meditation. A fantastic app is “Headspace“. I’ve used it for a while and it offers more than just meditation. It also helps directly with thoughts and feelings you have. (“Headspace” is a subscription based service and I feel awkward suggesting it but it is great! It offers guided meditations which are awesome.) There are also simple apps but don’t pay too much for them. At a base level, all you need is a timer.
There is a certain amount of stigma attached to meditation that needs to be shaken off. Not all of us who practice meditation are hippie-types, we don’t walk around barefoot with our heads in the clouds with a distant “far off look” in our eyes. Some do but it’s not a requirement.
Please give it a go. At least you can say you tried.