GUEST POST: The Easiest Way to Start Meditating for Improved Holistic Health
By: April Meyers, Mind Body Health Solution
If you’re seeking a natural remedy that boosts your physical, mental, and emotional health, meditation is the answer you’re looking for.
Meditation supports an improved mood and quality of life. But did you know it can also help to manage symptoms of certain physical conditions and illnesses — including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heart disease, and depression?
So what are you waiting for? Throw any excuses out the door and give meditation a try for yourself. Below are just some of the benefits of meditation. We also share some great tips for starting your own at-home meditation practice!
The Many Health Benefits of Meditation
According to the Mayo Clinic, several notable benefits of meditation include:
● Improved emotional well-being. Meditation improves focus and self-awareness, reduces stress and other difficult emotions, and cultivates tolerance and inner strength.
● Management for certain medical conditions. For some individuals, meditation can be an effective complementary treatment for managing symptoms associated with depression, high blood pressure, IBS, insomnia, chronic pain, and even cancer.
● Stress management. Regular meditation changes how your body responds to stress. When practiced regularly, meditation tames your body’s fight-or-flight response, helps you to better manage stress and can support mental clarity.
To experience these benefits of meditation, it’s important to practice regularly — preferably several times a week for at least 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
Some benefits of meditation (like improved mood and lowered blood pressure) may be noticeable after just one session. Other health benefits of meditation may take eight or more weeks of consistent practice before they appear—this is totally normal!
Creating the Perfect Space for Meditation
If you’re ready to see how meditation can improve your overall health and well-being, you’ll need to create the perfect space for meditating at home.
Start by cleaning and decluttering your house and letting in fresh air and natural light. This will help to remove negative energies from the home, boost focus, and enhance your at-home meditation practice.
Once you’ve decluttered your home, it’ll be time to create your meditation space! A private space with minimal disruptions is best, whether it’s a small corner, living room nook, or an entire room.
Fill your space with calming colors, natural lighting, relaxing sounds, and comfortable seating (such as a meditation chair, bolster, or cushion).
Plants, indoor fountains, essential oil diffusers, and soy or palm wax candles are other nice touches.
If you’d prefer to meditate outside of your home, you could set up space in your backyard, meditate in nature, or visit a meditation center near you.
Megan Wild of We Are Wilderness offers tips for creating a relaxing outdoor meditation space, complete with a fountain or pond, plenty of greenery, and wind chimes or crystals.
There are so many wonderful benefits of meditating in nature, including relief from anxiety, stress, and depression, lowered blood pressure, and improved concentration and mental focus.
Some other great places to meditate outdoors include the following:
● Near streams and rivers
● On a rooftop or balcony
● State and national parks
If you want to move your practice outdoors but the weather won’t allow for it, check out PARKTRACKS from the National Park Service and National Park Foundation. With 12 minutes of audio, you’ll engage your senses, calm your mind, and connect with nature through meditation.
Take Baby Steps with Your Meditation Practice
If you’re ready to start your practice but want guidance, the best place to start is with a guided meditation app like Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer, or Ten Percent Happier. Most have free trials for their premium versions too.
There are free options as well. Insight Timer, for instance, is completely free to use and features more than 70,000 guided meditations for sleep, anxiety, stress, health, happiness, and healing.
Plus, Insight Timer also offers free online yoga classes, sleep sounds, live talks and events, and other features that help to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Once you have your zen spot, change into comfortable clothing — or at least, loosen the clothing you’re already wearing. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all outfit for meditating, but the best clothes for meditators tend to be soft, loose, and comfortable. Sweatpants, joggers, boyshorts, fitted leggings, and relaxed tees or pullovers are great options.
Set aside anywhere from five to 20 minutes for your meditation practice. Settle into your new meditation space and sit comfortably on a cushion, chair, or meditation seat.
If you’re a total beginner, it may be best to start with a five-minute meditation and work your way up over time. And if you do fall asleep while meditating, don’t beat yourself up. As with most things in life, you'll improve with practice!
Find Your Zen
As you start your at-home meditation practice, you’ll also find there are several meditation styles to choose from. Guided meditation is best for beginners, but you can experiment with unguided meditation once you’ve mastered a few techniques.
If you're using an app like Insight Timer, you’ll find several different types of guided meditation practices, including sound meditation, the body scan technique, guided imagery, repetition, and mindfulness.
Meditation has the power to positively impact your health and well-being, and the best part is, it’s something that can be started with little to no money, equipment, or experience.
While it can take some time to get the hang of meditation, the important thing is that you keep at it — even if you’re falling asleep or struggling to keep your mind from wandering. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect — and meditation is no different!
April Meyers is a huge advocate of embracing the mind-body connection because she’s learned first-hand - for better and for worse - how intimately they’re connected.
She now teaches yoga full time to help her students nurture both their physical and emotional health, and she created Mind Body Health Solution to support people far and wide in their wellness journey.
Between yoga classes, you can usually find her toiling away in her veggie garden or hard at work in the kitchen creating healthy(ish) recipes.