Meditation is a practice widely used by the Buddhists and Hindus who invented it, but it’s also become popular in numerous other cultures and in non-spiritual contexts, from wellness communities to business. It uses the essential technique of mindfulness to train one’s attention and awareness, which has been shown to improve long-term focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance feelings of self-knowledge and well-being.
Other effects of meditation include lowering heart rate, oxygen consumption, frequency of breath, stress hormones, lactate levels, and sympathetic nervous system activity — i.e., lowers your fight-or-flight response system. The brain exhibits the alpha wave patterns of relaxation, and in seasoned meditators cognition drops even deeper into relaxation with the observation of slower delta and theta waves.
In other words, meditation helps you chill out without spending any money, doing any drugs, or taking time off for vacation.
How to Meditate: The Dead Easy Method
There are many different styles of meditation, but my preferred daily exercise and one I recommend for all beginners, is the simplest method: sit. Just sit. Sit down somewhere comfortably upright, ideally with legs crossed and hands folded at the navel, and just sit quietly with yourself for anywhere from 5 to 10 to 15 minutes and beyond if and when you feel like extending your meditation time. But we’re super busy these days and if you can only manage to budget for 5 minutes a day, you should go for it. The daily regularity of the practice is, I believe, even more important than the strict duration of the daily meditation. My threshold goal is 10 minutes a day because I know I can reliably hit that, and it gives me the confidence to stick with it over the long run.