Meditation: Where to Begin?

In celebration of the re-launching of this website along with it's accompanying blog, the following is a reworking of the original first post ever of The Mindful Now.  So WELCOME, THANK YOU, and ENJOY!

Meditation has definitely been "trending" over the last few years. It can be found in the workplace and in schools.  So what IS meditation?  Why is it drawing so much attention? Most importantly, can it benefit me?

The word comes from the Latin "to ponder" and the Sanskrit "to contemplate." Essentially, it is a form of mind training where one can either exercise or rest the mind through various methods including repeating prayers or mantras to clearing the mind of all thought and resting in stillness.  For me, meditation is a form of awareness that can be practiced in many forms with equally favorable results.

Learning how to meditate

Since there are many meditation techniques, in this article I will be focusing on a quick and easy method that works well for beginners, breath counting.

Focusing on the Breath

Breath counting, is a great way to reduce stress and tension. The object of this meditation is to focus on the rhythm of our breathing. To do this, we count each breath in and each breath out. Breathe normally and take a breath in, pause, and out, "one" and so on.  This is where many feel they are "doing it wrong" or that they are "not good at it". Remember, this is the beginning and no one is a pro when they start. When your mind wanders, and it will, simply return to your breathing and begin again.

This is a great meditation to do anywhere when you have even just one or two minutes to yourself. In time, your focus will improve and you can replace counting your breaths with the words, "in", "out" and eventually you can begin repeating affirmations such as "calm" or "peace".

As you become ready to "return" from your meditation, slowly bring your thoughts back to your body and the sounds around you. If you had your eyes closed, move your muscles a little, rub your hands together and cup them over your eyes for a few seconds, then open your eyes.

Congratulations! You've completed your first meditation! With regular practice you will be able to achieve even deeper states of relaxation and awareness.