How to Meditate (And Why You Should Do It)
From Buddhist monks to everyday businessmen, meditation has been practiced for thousands of years — and for good reason. Between jobs, relationships, and family life, reducing your stress levels and living an anxiety-free life in today’s society can prove to be an incredibly difficult task. According to EOC Institute, studies show that a large portion of men’s anxiety comes from job performance, as they feel that they are responsible as a provider for the family, thus increasing their stress levels at work. There is a desire to fulfill their partner’s wants and needs just as much as their own, and with so much outside influence from the media constantly pushing men to do more, achieve more, and succeed in reaching higher goals, it’s important to stop, breathe, and meditate for a healthier and more mindful lifestyle.
Meditation occurs when you become aware of yourself and your surroundings and calm the scattered thoughts that are tiring your mind all day long. Health and Yoga describes how meditation is simply this act of awareness — you can focus on your breathing and consider this to be meditation, so long as your focus remains on your breathing and your thoughts do not shift to all of the paperwork you still have yet to finish, or that project you haven’t yet completed at the office. Daily, your thoughts are projecting different wants and needs constantly, and meditation helps to quiet all those thoughts down to just one.
So, how do you get started? There is not just one way to meditate, but the ultimate goal is to calm the mind, relax, and ultimately feel renewed by the end of your session. The best way to start is to dedicate just fifteen minutes to this exercise — in today’s busy world, it’s tough to find time, so even just a small bracket out of your typical day can give you benefits. The Art of Manliness describes an easy meditation technique, the Buddhist breath method, as simply using a “breath set” to focus on your breathing while leaving all other thoughts to the wayside. You can do a breath set by just inhaling, counting up to a few seconds (start with three seconds at first), and then exhaling, counting the seconds on the exhale as well. You should breathe in through your nose and then exhale through your mouth, filling your lungs with air and focusing on how it feels to just breathe and relax. Thoughts can, and probably will, try to invade this quiet space that you’re creating, so continue to count and observe your breathing, and do your best to ignore them.
If you don’t want to focus on your breathing, you can also try mantra meditation, which involves repeating a word or phrase. You can repeat a sound and use this as your focus, or you can repeat a positive phrase or inspirational quote to fuel your mind with good thoughts. This will bring more positivity into your mind, which can keep you hopeful and less stressed throughout the day.
The breathing method or mantra meditation are great ways to get started, but if you’re feeling like some physical activity may be a better method for you to center your thoughts, then you can also practice active meditation. Physical activity is well-known for its psychological benefits, so active meditation is great for experiencing a sense of calm and clarity. You may actually even experience active meditation and not even realize — that feeling of being so intensely into your workout or your morning run that you block all other thoughts from your mind is meditation itself, and that refreshed feeling that comes after is a result of this activity.
One common type of active mediation is known as OSHO meditation, and it is characterized as fast and intense in terms of what movements are used. It is useful in breaking habitual thought patterns that may give you negativity in your life, allowing you to experience a more peaceful and less stressed mind, which can provide you with more positivity in your life overall. According to the OSHO website, this activity is to be done in the morning, as that is when you’re already most refreshed and when your mind is most alert.
The meditation has five stages, and the entire process lasts about an hour. You must keep your eyes closed throughout the practice. The first stage is 10 minutes, and the goal here is to breathe as chaotically, deeply, and intensely as possible. You should allow yourself to do this as fast and severely as possible in order to build up energy in your body. During the second stage, which is another 10 minutes, you let go of this energy you have spent the previous ten minutes building. Scream, shout, jump, and move as much as you’d like. Give yourself the freedom to let loose, even if you feel weird doing it.
The third stage, also 10 minutes, requires you to raise your arms above your head and chant a simple phrase. This can just be a “hoo” or a “ha” or whatever easy, monosyllabic phrase you can think of. While you’re chanting, be sure to jump up and down and land heavy on the flats of your feet. The fourth stage is 15 minutes, and this is when you should completely halt your movements. Freeze completely in whatever position you find yourself in — do not even cough, as this can throw off the flow of energy in your body that you’re working so hard to create. Then, during the final stage, also 15 minutes, you should celebrate what you have just done — dance around, allow music to play in the background and flow through you, and be as expressive as you’d like.
Though this specific practice sounds like you’ll look ridiculous, and possibly a little bit crazy, many people have said that this method has given them stress management and even the ability to change bad habits and bring more awareness to their body overall. The Osho Sadhana Meditation Center in New York claims that active meditation can make you feel more relaxed hours, or even days, after you finish the practice.
Whether you have a few minutes or hours to spend introspectively, it’s important to note all of the benefits that meditation can bring to you. Men’s Fitness states that meditation is known to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can also have an affect on your waistline. Increased stress levels can increase your likelihood to want to eat when you’re not actually hungry, so overall, meditation can have a positive affect on your weight, as decreasing these stress levels can make you less of an emotional eater. Also, you can increase your energy levels with meditation, as blocking out all other outside stimulation from your life, even just for fifteen minutes a day, can help you feel renewed. The quality of your sleep can also improve, as the meditation throughout the day helps you fall into a more relaxed state, and this helps you fall asleep quicker and wake up feeling even more well-rested. And, with this improved sleep quality and relaxed mind, you’ll also be boosting your immune system, making you more able to fight disease and stay healthy for those long days at the office.
Try it out and reap the rewards, as meditation could be the perfect key to a happier and healthier you — no gym membership or expensive equipment required.
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