By Donna L. Hamilton, MD
I frequently hear people say they want to start meditating but don’t know where to start. That’s not surprising. As news spreads about the health and wellness benefits of meditation so does information about the various techniques. Medical research reports many benefits including stress reduction, improved mental clarity, blood pressure improvement, and depression treatment. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Deepak
Chopra have recommended this technique. But how does a beginner start?
There’s no need to get bogged down trying to pick a stress reduction technique. That defeats the purpose, right? Meditation is easy, portable, and doesn’t require any props. Start with a basic technique, then fine tune your practice as you figure out what works best for you.
Now you might be wondering, ”What’s a basic meditation technique? Good question! At its core meditation is a simple process of focusing the mind. It’s as simple as concentrating your attention on one thing for an extended period of time. Contrary to popular belief, the goal of meditation isn’t to empty or quiet your mind. This often happens for seasoned meditators but it isn’t the goal. People with active minds can still meditate and gain benefits.
Many forms of meditation exist. If one type doesn’t work well for you try another. For example, very active people might prefer a movement based meditation. Movement meditation also works well for young children who tend to have trouble sitting still for long periods of time. Walking, dancing, or running can also become a meditation if you have a consistent focus point such as your breath.
Focusing on your breath also works well for sitting meditations. Other focal points for a still meditation include sound, a calm image like a sunset, a candle or a short phrase (called a mantra) repeated slowly in your mind. Common mantras include “om,” “love” or “peace be still.” Regardless of what you choose, the key to meditation is remembering to return to your focal point when you realize your mind has wandered.
Your mind WILL wander. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Simply return to your focal point. Don’t try to block thoughts. Allow them to show up and gently redirect your mind back to your breath, sound, image, or motion.
If you choose to do a still meditation it’s important to pick a comfortable, relaxed position. Try sitting in a supported, comfortable position with your hands and feet uncrossed. Pick a quiet location where you won’t be disturbed. This is important because your body will be in a state of deep relaxation during this kind of meditation. Shocking interruptions can trigger a stress response for your nervous system.
Start meditating five to ten minutes once a day until you discover what works for you. Once you find your meditation style, location, time of day, etc. work up to twenty minutes twice a day.
Everyone can meditate. If you want to incorporate it into your personal wellness plan you can find a technique that works for you. Be patient with yourself and your process. Don’t get stressed out while selecting a stress reduction technique. You can do this.
© 2012 Donna L. Hamilton, MD
Holistic wellness speaker Dr. Donna L. Hamilton, MD, MS passionately teaches women what being healthy really means and how to do it in a way that fits their unique needs. She enthusiastically teaches a comprehensive approach to health and wellness that addresses mental, emotional, social, spiritual and physical well-being. Dr. Hamilton-a former board certified pediatrician-now specializes in health optimization. She retired her white coat and stethoscope and now speaks nationally about holistically improving health and well-being. For more information visit http://www.ManifestExcellence.com