FIT for Women, Healthy Lifestyle

Meditation basics

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By The Edith Sanford team

September 10, 2014

Just relax! Research shows that all that stress isn’t doing your health any favors.

Maintaining a positive mood is important for your overall well-being, keeping you healthy and protecting against disease, like breast cancer. But does the thought of taking up a good-for-you habit like meditation cause stress in and of itself?

Check out these meditation basics for beginners, along with valuable information on the benefits of this ancient practice.

What is meditation?

The simplest way to define meditation is focused relaxation. In its most basic form, meditation is the practice of focusing your attention inward and quieting your mind, generally by concentrating on your breathing — how you draw your breath in and how it feels as you exhale.

Meditation doesn’t require equipment. All you need is a few minutes and the desire to let go of the pressures of everyday life.

How can it help?

Meditation has both immediate and long-term benefits.

First, it can help you calm and center yourself, releasing stress and anxiety related to whatever is affecting you at the present moment.

Second, practicing meditation on a regular basis helps you build the skills to deal with stress, allowing you to retain perspective when you otherwise might feel overwhelmed. And that long-term ability to manage the pressures of everyday life has a positive overall influence on your health.

I’m convinced. Now what do I do?

The best way to begin meditating is to find a quiet place to sit. Minimize distractions (phones are a definite no!) and commit to prioritizing your health and well-being by taking the time to find peace and balance.

You should also plan to start small. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to practice mindfulness for 30 minutes right off the bat. Aim for three to five minutes and gradually increase your time as you gain the ability to stay focused.

Set reasonable expectations and know that it will be difficult to keep intrusive thoughts at bay. Your mind will wander to your to-do list, so avoid the urge to succumb to frustration and return to centering on your breathing. Your ability to remain focused will grow as you become more experienced.

Taking just a few moments to shut out the chaos of everyday life can have positive impacts on your physical and emotional health.

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