A down-to-earth look at the benefits of meditation and how to bring some simple, calming practices into your busy life.

The art and practice of meditation has been in transition over the last few years. Twenty years ago, meditation was primarily for the person searching for enlightenment or familiar with Eastern spiritual principles such as Buddhism and transcendental meditation. But in mainstream society today, there is a growing interest in understanding the connection among the body, mind and soul. Magazines like Body & Soul, from the publisher of Martha Stewart Living, Spirituality & Health are exposing our culture to the benefits of meditation in everyday life.

There are many documented benefits of meditation on the overall physical health, mental well being and vitality. The internet is full of examples and statistics with regard to the value of this ancient practice. Meditation gives you the opportunity to step out of the high speed racetrack of life for a few minutes a day. You can cleanse your body of unhealthy feelings and calm the mind to release the stress through quiet reflection and stillness.

Meditation Comforts the Mind

Stephan Bodian, in his book Meditation for Dummies, states that there are 4 outcomes that occur to “soothe the mind” as a result of regular meditation:

1. Awakening to the present moment: When you rush breathlessly from one moment to the next, anticipating another problem or hungering for another pleasure, you miss the beauty and immediacy of the present, which is constantly unfolding before
your eyes. Meditation teaches you to slow down and take each moment as it comes and be “really present” in the now.

2. Lightening up: Perhaps you have noticed that nonstop thinking and worrying generate a kind of inner claustrophobia – fears feed on one another, problems get magnified exponentially, and the next thing you know, you are feeling overwhelmed and panicked. Meditation encourages an inner mental spaciousness in which difficult concerns no longer seem threatening and constructive solutions can naturally arise.

3. Feeling more centered, grounded and balanced: To counter the escalating insecurity of life’s chaotic pace, meditation offers an inner groundedness and balance that external circumstances cannot destroy. When you take the time to slow down and be still for even a few minutes a day, you will notice a clear difference in how you face the world. The challenges that appear in your life will be more manageable because you have established a connection with your inner self as a sort of “coming home” to self that is always there. You will no longer get thrown off balance by the “slings and arrows” that life throws at you.

4. Enhanced focus and concentration: By training your mind to focus on the present moment and nothing else through meditation, you will see after some time that this focused attention habit begins to occur also in your waking life. Your concentration and focus will be sharper and allow you to keep your attention on all projects you undertake in different areas of your life.

How to Meditate?

You may ask yourself, “How can I possibly find time to meditate in my busy schedule?

There are many ways to meditate, but they do not need to be complicated or very long. Even 10 minutes a day at the same time every day would be helpful to your physical, mental and emotional health. Over time you can add another 5 minutes and another.

Here are 3 ideas as to how to make time for this necessary practice that your body craves to release stress and recalibrate:

1. Find 10 minutes in your day to set aside to meditate to start with. Just 10 minutes! Choose a time in the day where you can do it a few times a week at the same time. If you can get up 20 minutes earlier than you normally do, before your children rise for school, for example, would give you some quiet time to start your day in balance. After dinner, or when the children are in bed, instead of turning the television on, slip away and sit in silence for 10-15 minutes. Try not to meditate before bedtime, as your body and mind will likely be too tired and can potentially fall asleep. If you only have time late at night, then read some inspirational or uplifting short articles, stories, prayers or poems that you are drawn to. Contemplate them, write some things in a blank journal with some soft music in the background; light a candle. The objective is to spend time in quiet contemplation with yourself to re-balance yourself and not to fall asleep.

2. Make a place available in your home or office where you can sit in silence and not be disturbed. An extra guest room, a corner of your bedroom, an empty office or conference room, can serve as your place of refuge for even a few minutes a day. You can make it attractive for yourself by putting inspirational pictures or favorite keepsakes there. If you make it your own private place, you will be encouraged to return there on a regular basis. Have small candles available to light each time you enter to create a sort of sacred ritual. Have a CD player nearby, where you can play some soft music.

3. Commit to this time you set aside for your body to recover and restore balance. You give time to your family, your job, your friends and even may give time to your body through exercise at the gym. But this time for meditation has a different function for your body to naturally “tune itself up” through silent reflection and stillness. According to Lorin Roche, the founder of Instinctive Meditation, the body instinctively knows how to meditate and does it willingly if you set up the conditions and allow it. Your body actually “craves” this quiet time to return to a state of balance.

There are many excellent guided meditation products for beginners that can help you to follow the exercises offered on the CD and focus on the guided imagery that is suggested.

How to Tame the Gremlins

A gremlin is a little mythical creature who likes to get into trouble and cause mischief wherever it goes. The self talk or “chatter” that runs constantly in your mind is like a gremlin; all the things you still have to do, the worries and concerns that are on your mind, the negative self talk, that inflict doubt and fear into many areas of your consciousness.

While meditation cannot rid you of these pesky little creatures, it can help you to learn how to let them cross through your mind and gently brush them out so that you can concentrate on the stillness.
One way to get rid of the gremlins during meditation is to simply notice them entering your mind and gently brush them through your mind to the other side. Mentally escort them out and return to the meditation practice.

Meditation is an exercise for the body (relaxation and stress relief), the mind (quieting the gremlins and slowing down) and spirit (connection to true self at an inner awareness level).

Take a break from your busy life and make time to meditate. You will see, over time, that your body, mind and spirit will thank you for it.

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Rogoski is an American living in The Netherlands for 18 years. She is known as “A Spiritual Teacher in a Business Suit”,is a professional speaker, trainer, writer and teacher on raising consciousness at work and at home and down to earth meditation. Her first guided meditation product: Workplace Meditations is available on CD or MP3 from the Authentic Matters website at www.authenticmatters.com. For more information, email: barbara.rogoski@authenticmatters.com