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A 5 Step Guide to Mindful Meditation

Meditation is known for aiding in relaxation and alleviating stress, but did you know it has also been linked to easing symptoms of chronic anxiety, depression and boosting overall mood? In some cases, it has even been reported to improve focus and memory retention.

Many people can be intimidated by the thoughts of meditation and see it as something only practiced by experienced yogis, when in fact anybody can practice mindful meditation in the comfort of their own home.

We’ve outlined some simple steps below that should help you get started with meditation and in turn take care of your mental wellness.

1. Set your intention

Just like you decide on your destination before embarking on a walk or drive, you should think about your intention regarding meditation. Are you looking to refocus or take your mind off day-to-day stresses? You may need to unwind from a busy shift at work, or clear your head before sleeping. Whatever your reason, your intention will help reinforce why you have begun to meditate.

Once you have decided on your intention, no matter how big or small it may be, make sure to revisit it before every meditation, whether that involves jotting it down in a journal or saying it aloud.

2. Comfort is key

The surroundings you meditate in will have a great impact on how successful the session may be. If possible, try and find a room with minimal distractions (that means no smart phones or computers!) and that’s set to a comfortable temperature. If possible, change into loose-fitting clothing, find a position you will be comfortable in for the duration of the meditation, be it sitting on a chair, on the floor or reclining on a bed – the key here is to find a position where your spine is straight and posture is relaxed. When you feel comfortable, close your eyes and relax.

3. Concentrate on breathing

Begin a meditation by concentrating on your breathing pattern. Breathe in slowly through your nose and feel the air filling up your lungs. Release slowly through your mouth until your lungs are completely empty. If you find it difficult to keep your breathing at a steady pattern, try counting two seconds while you inhale, and four seconds as you exhale. By simply bringing your attention to the steady pattern of your breath, you will help clear your head of all thoughts and in turn bring down your heart rate, thus relaxing the body and mind.

4. Accept interruptions, don’t resist them

From time to time, your mind may wander away from the task at hand – you may feel frustrated or even feel as if you have failed. This is a normal part of meditation. Instead of feeling as if the session is wasted, acknowledge the thought as it enters your head instead of resisting it and getting frustrated. Try to move on by slowly bringing your attention back to the pattern of your breath. As you meditate more you should find this easier to do, and you will notice your mind wandering less and less.

5. Start small

How many of us have set unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, only to find ourselves giving up on them completely by the third week of January? Remember that it can take some people years to master meditation, so jumping straight into a half hour session might be a little unrealistic if you have never tried to meditate before. Start with setting aside five minutes per day and aim to increase your sessions by five minutes every week or two. Remember that like anything, you will improve with time and continuous practice.