Find Your Zen
Want to achieve a new level of calm in as little as four minutes a day? Use these easy meditation tips to rest your mind
Do you think of meditation as something deeply spiritual practised in a serene space and in the lotus position? While it can be that, it doesn’t have to be. According to experts, meditation really comes down to the practice of being mindful – and that simply means paying attention to what you’re doing and using all your senses. You might focus on the rhythm of your breaths, the sound of the wind in the trees, the sensation of the air on your skin, or the beauty of the clouds in the sky.
Meditation is not about emptying your mind of all thoughts, but accepting that thoughts will come your way and, without judging or dwelling on them, letting them go and coming back to the present moment.
Research shows meditation has multiple benefits, from restructuring your brain to boosting your immune system. It can...
CALM YOU DOWN The slow, steady controlled breathing that is practised during meditation triggers your parasympathetic nervous response – your ‘rest and digest’ state – which lowers your heart rate, reduces stress and eases muscular tension. It’s like taking an instant chill pill!
REDUCE STRESS The ‘fight or flight’ area in your brain actually shrinks after regular meditation, meaning that the longer you practise, the more control you’ll have over your body’s automatic response to everyday stress. Also, by staying in the moment you can tame your chattering ‘monkey mind’ and let go of the random negative thoughts that wind you up or get you down.
IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP You can learn to access your relaxation response more easily, so effectively you develop the skill to switch off your worries at bedtime; plus lowered stress and anxiety levels add up to betterquality slumber overall. MAKE YOU A NICER, HAPPIER PERSON Meditation lights up the part of the brain’s empathy ‘centre’, meaning that your compassion levels get a major boost. It can also strengthen the brain circuits connected to happiness. KEEP YOUR BRAIN YOUNG Long-term practice can reduce inflammation – associated with most major health concerns including heart disease, arthritis, stroke and diabetes. Meditation has also been found to increase the thickness of the part of your brain associated with memory, cognition and learning, meaning it helps to keep your brain sharp and young.