The why and how of meditation
A little over two months ago, I started meditating. I did it primarily to improve my ability to stay calm under pressure, but there are many other scientifically proven benefits. Meditation:
- Lowers stress levels
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves ability to focus and remember things
- Improves the immune system
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Improves creativity and problem solving
- Makes it easier to fall asleep
- Increases compassion and empathy
- Increases happiness
How does meditation work?
There are many different ways to meditate, but the ones that have been studied the most focus on these three skills:
- Focused attention (concentration)
- Open monitoring (awareness)
- Acceptance, loving and compassion
I listed these skills in the order of difficulty, so one would start with focused attention, then work towards including open monitoring and finally incorporate acceptance, loving and compassion.
I started simply by focusing on my breath and counting to 100 (which takes approximately 10 minutes for me), avoiding mind wandering. Trying to prevent myself from thinking about things other than my breath was hard, and honestly, it felt pretty boring. I had difficulty trying to slow down my racing mind.
But it got easier over time. Being able to focus and divert attention from unimportant distractions in both internal and external environment felt great. The boredom turned into freedom.
About a week ago, I started incorporating open monitoring into my meditation practice. I’m very excited to see what kind of experiences this stage will bring.