Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meditation for Beginners

Silent meditation has many benefits, if you think that only yoginis and serious buddhists can or should meditate then this post is for you.

I could write endlessly about the benefits of meditation alone, as they are innumerable but I'm going to focus on a few that seem to be universal issues. The first is stress relief; I don't know many people who claim they are totally without stress. Again, without judgment, it doesn't have to be the weight of the world you're carrying on your back (although some burdens may feel more stressful to people than other burdens) whether it's a geometry test on Friday, a looming deadline at work or the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, we all experience stress. There are a ton studies out there linking meditation to the reduction of stress, however we're experiencing it. If anyone is interested I'd be happy to post some links, however it's pretty easy to just google "meditation stress reduction studies". I'd point you to John Kabat-Zinn as he is a leader in this area.

Another benefit is pain relief; and again, whether it is the pain of menstrual cramps or chronic pain associated with a serious illness meditation and mindfulness can help! I personally can attest to the power of mindfulness during childbirth and experiencing a labor and birth free of pain medication.

Meditation can certainly be daunting, I remember trying to meditate in my past and getting nowhere. It was boring! It wasn't doing anything! It was pointless! After taking a course in meditation I found a very gentle way to begin meditating: the guided body scan. The body scan is a way of isolating an paying attention to each part of your body, in sequence and then allowing your attention to move to a different part of the body. What fabulous about the body scan is that instead of making yourself pay attention to, for example, your breath or a mantra, a guided body scan simply and slowly directs your attention to the body, to what's going on know, in the present moment.

There are guided online body scans for meditation available free, all over the internet. I encourage you to check out one or two of the links provided below and try on out!

This one is very short, so good for folks who want to give this a try but don't want to do a full half-hour body scan:

Lots of different meditations on this website:


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