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What is Meditation?

Written by Emily Malkowski

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Posted on October 28 2020

If you’ve been toying with the idea of meditation, chances are you’re probably well aware that it can be a little intimidating— and with so much information out there, it can be difficult to know where exactly to begin.

As it turns out, you don’t need to be a wellness expert, psychology enthusiast, or yogi of any kind to start incorporating regular meditation into your daily routine. Meditation can benefit anyone, whether you’re looking to use it to soothe anxiety, deal with stress, or just to gain more clarity and peace in your life.

What is meditation?

Meditation may seem like it’s only recently cropped up in mental health and self-care circles, but the reality is that meditation is a wellness practice that traces as far back as early ancient civilizations. Although there are a variety of ways to meditate, at its core, meditation is simply “continued or extended thought, reflection, or contemplation.” It’s a sort of “mental training” that helps us consistently center and check in with ourselves, specifically reflecting and tapping into anything we might be feeling emotionally, mentally, and physically.

What are the benefits of meditation?

Thanks to recent meditation studies, we’re starting to get a better idea of how meditation affects our bodies, brains, and overall health and wellness. And as you’ve probably noticed, the popularity of meditation is also increasing as more people begin to discover its benefits. 

Recent studies have shown that regular meditation can lead to the following: 

  • Increased self-awareness
  • Improved focus
  • Less anxiety
  • Increased creativity
  • Better memory
  • Reduced stress
  • Increased patience, tolerance, and compassion

What’s even better: you might even start to see results right away. Research suggests that first-time meditators registered a decrease in beta waves in the brain after just a single 20-minute session— which is just a fancy way of saying the brain drastically calmed down and stopped processing information as rapidly as usual during meditation.

Helpful meditation tips for beginners: 

If you’re just starting out or struggling to find your footing in a new meditation practice, try incorporating these tips from meditation experts: 

  • Sit in a quiet, comfortable space
  • Keep potential distractions to a minimum
  • Relax your body - sit with good posture without being too tense
  • Take deep, gentle breaths
  • Choose a time to meditate every day and stick to it
  • Take a couple moments to clear your mind before you begin

And above all, don’t get discouraged if meditation doesn’t click for you right away. Practice makes perfect, and meditation is a skill that needs to be learned like any other. 

In the words of Headspace, one of today’s most popular meditation apps: “Meditation isn’t about becoming a different or better person. It’s about training awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings, you’re learning to observe them without judgment.”

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