Column: Why meditation is worth trying

Columnist Hunter Bassler shows us how, why and where to meditate.

The human race has always been one to seek new frontiers. From the sea to space, we have always loved to explore and discover. However, there has been another seemingly endless frontier that has always perplexed us: the mind.

Full of memories to reflect on, decisions to ponder and thoughts to investigate, our minds are one of the greatest frontiers to explore. Through schools of study like psychology and philosophy, we can come close to the understanding this amazing frontier. However, one of the best ways for an individual to understand their own mind is by meditating.

Meditation is a centuries-old practice originating in Hindu tradition and later part of Taoist and Buddhist traditions. As time passed, many of the world’s largest religions adopted the practice. Even though you don’t rise off the ground or become telepathic while meditating, people everywhere believe it is an essential part of spiritual development.

Meditation has been a practice of mine for about a year and a half now. This was about the same time in which I had started to explore the gigantic world of religion. When my studies led me to Buddhism and then to meditation, I was in awe. Around this time, I was someone who was quick to anger, anxious about my life and the future, and not in touch with my emotions. When I came in contact with meditation and learned what it has done for people, I immediately started practicing.

Meditation is hard — I won’t sugar coat it. In a world in which we can never be bored, an exercise that requires you to sit still, be calm and indulge in silence is definitely not part of everyday norms. Another reason it is not popular is due to people not knowing the real physical and mental benefits meditation can yield. According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation not only helps with our emotional well-being, but can also help manage symptoms of conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, heart disease and cancer.

There are a multitude of ways to meditate, but the one I’ve found most effective is mindfulness meditation. Although many think of meditation as a task in which you clear your mind of all thoughts, mindfulness meditation involves the opposite. But this process is easier said than done.

The most important part of this process is setting. You are going to need to find an area which is relatively quiet and where you will not be disturbed. You will only need this space for about 8 minutes. This is the best starting time for beginners, as it is not too short or agonizingly long. You are going to need to sit down in any position that is comfortable, set the timer for eight minutes, start the timer and close your eyes.

Begin by mentally checking the body as it relaxes by feeling if any part feels tense or in pain. If there happens to be, adjust your position so these parts can loosen. After this, all you need to do is focus on the breath. You don’t need to change how long you inhale or exhale, you need only turn your focus to it. If any thoughts arise and turn your attention away from the breath, that is okay. Notice the thought, let it go, and return to the breath. Keep doing this each time your attention is diverted until the timer goes off. Congratulations, you just meditated.

As I stated before, meditation is hard. Do not be discouraged if you didn’t exactly get it after your first try. As with every other hard thing in life, it takes practice and patience. As you do it more and more, you can increase the time of each session or increase the number of sessions as you see fit. So stay calm, stay focused and enjoy the inner peace that you acquire from meditation. Namaste.

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