We would like to introduce you to World Meditation Day! May 21st marks a day organized to bring awareness to the benefits of meditation around the world. Organizers are lobbying for the official implementation of World Meditation Day, but despite the lack of official status of the day, support for the movement has grown.
Stress and daily problems can create a lot of pressure on people, and despite the fact that many smaller stressors may seem insignificant, they add up to big problems. This build-up effect can cause our overall wellbeing to suffer. Reducing that stress becomes critical for a person’s physical and mental health. Because of the negative effects of stress, organizers of World Meditation Day seek to bring attention and awareness to ways that people can reduce that pressure, maintaining a healthy physical and psychological lifestyle.
What is meditation, and how does it help us?
Let’s be honest, when we think of meditation, we think of someone sitting cross-legged and chanting, “Ohm.” That stereotype isn’t all-encompassing, though.
Meditation is simply an action that makes one focus on what is going on in the present moment by purifying the mind. Sitting in a certain manner, or chanting a specific word, are simply tools used to focus the attention within, but neither tool is necessary to meditate. Meditation can be everything done with a concentrated action. Because we are unique human beings, we all may have different methods and tools of meditating. The point is to be acting mindfully in the present moment.
Meditation has a long history around the world. We can see depictions of meditation in the Vedas written around 1500 BCE in India. However, if you look further back in India’s wall art, we can see pictures of people in a meditative position with half-closed eyes around 5000 BCE. Perhaps that is where we get the stereotype of the cross-legged meditator.
For some religions, meditation is an important aspect of worship. This association is likely where we get the idea that meditation is a religious practice. In today’s world, however, meditative practices have expanded far beyond the ideological confines of religion. Meditation has evolved into an activity that can be done for the sole purpose of relaxation and stress relief, easing the daily burden of our hectic lives, and bringing mindfulness into the present moment.
Benefits of Meditation
The benefits of meditation have been widely researched since the practice gained popularity. While research on the extensive benefits continues, here’s three established facts about meditation:
1. Meditation reduces stress. When used with concentrated breathing exercises, meditation can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. That’s a win-win for your mind and body.
2. Meditation helps with anxiety and panic disorders. Focusing on one’s heart rate and breathing brings attention to the present moment. A person utilizing meditation techniques can find that, over time, they adopt those mindfulness techniques into normal practice, thereby reducing their anxiety levels.
3. Meditation increases productivity. Some employers have started integrating meditation into the workplace, inviting employees to take some time in their workday to meditate. Since meditation hones the ability to focus, employers see that ability translated into increased productivity.
How can I start meditating?
What’s really amazing about meditation is that it can be practiced by anyone, so don’t stress out over how to start. You don’t have to sit cross-legged if you don’t want to. You can do meditation while you lay down, sit, shower, or even walking down the street. There are tons of different techniques for meditation, but we brought you the five basic steps of simple meditation.
1. Sit upright with a long spine, cross-legged, or in a chair. If you are not comfortable sitting upright, laying down is completely ok.
2. Allow your eyelids to relax and be heavy.
3. Focus on your breathing, concentrating each time you inhale and exhale. This will help draw your attention to within.
4. You may find your thoughts drifting to different things while you meditate, and that’s ok! Just acknowledge the thought, and refocus your attention on your breathing cycle.
5. Meditation is completely customizable to you, so you can practice it for 5 minutes or an hour. You’ll start noticing that you feel more calm and peaceful.
Join in on celebrating World Meditation Day!
This year, May 21st could be a great day for you to try meditation. Just find someplace where you can relax and be comfortable. You could light some candles, playing calming music, or light incense to create a soothing atmosphere that encourages meditation. If you’re someone who has difficulty sitting still for a period of time, try exercising before you meditate! Yoga, walking, running, or any other exercise is a great way to help you focus on meditation.
If you’re curious about other techniques, there are meditation apps or guided meditation videos on YouTube, which are helpful resources. However, you choose to meditate, join us in celebrating World Meditation Day by creating your own meditation journey.