You've probably heard all about the benefits of meditating. It can improve memory and concentration, reduce stress levels, and research has even suggested that it may be effective at decreasing the risk of certain medical conditions like age-related memory loss. So, why do we all still find it so damn hard to actually stick to a meditation regime?
With so much time on our hands now (and plenty of Coronavirus-induced anxiety at play), there's never been a better time to trial meditation. Run out of things to do at home? You literally have zero excuses.
According to Andy Puddicombe, founder of the Headspace app, the most important part of meditation is showing up. "It sounds so obvious but when people do it consistently, as close to daily as possible, they see more benefit than those who don’t," he explained.
"The morning is the best time of day for creating a habit. You’re more likely to do I and it will make you more likely to be mindful during the day from making better food choices to higher productivity. It starts the day on a very positive note. I don’t see it any different to brushing your teeth. You wouldn’t leave the house without brushing your teeth because it’s not good for your teeth and your breath will smell. If you don’t look after your mind, your head will hurt."
Here is Headspace's super simple guide to meditating at home in just ten minutes (and we've also rounded up the best meditation and mindfulness apps if you want to complement your practise).
Find a quiet space where you can relax.
Sit comfortably in a chair with your hands resting in your lap or on your knees. Keep your back straight – sitting at the front of the seat might help. Your neck should be relaxed, with your chin slightly tucked in. Commit to spending the full time on the meditation, whether you find it difficult or easy.
Defocus your eyes, gazing softly into the middle distance. Take five deep, audible breaths: in through the nose and out through the mouth. On the last exhalation, let your eyes gently close.
Take a few moments to settle into your body. Gently observe your posture, and notice the sensations where your body touches the chair and your feet meet the ground. Feel the weight of your arms and hands resting on your legs. Acknowledge your senses: notice anything you can smell, hear or taste, sensations of heat or cold.
Scan your body
Slowly turn your mind inwards. Scan your body from head to toe, observing any tension or discomfort. Don’t try to change what you find, simply take note of it. Scan again, although this time notice which parts of the body feel relaxed. Take about 20 seconds for each scan.
Now turn your awareness to your thoughts. Notice any thoughts that arise without attempting to alter them. Gently note your underlying mood, just becoming aware of what’s there without judgment. If there’s nothing obvious, that’s fine, too.
Observe the breath
Bring your attention to your breathing. Don’t make any effort to change it, just observe the rising and falling sensation that it creates in the body. Notice where these sensations occur – be it your belly, your chest, your shoulders, or anywhere else. For a few moments, focus on the quality of each breath, noting whether it’s deep or shallow, long or short, fast or slow. Begin silently counting the breaths: 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 on the next inhalation, and so on, up to 10. Then start again at 1.
Allow your mind to be free
Spend 20-30 seconds just sitting. You might find yourself inundated with thoughts and plans, or feel calm and focused. Whatever happens is completely fine. Enjoy the rare chance to let your mind simply be.
Prepare to finish
Become aware once more of the physical feelings: of the chair beneath you, where your feet make contact with the floor, your arms and your hands resting in your lap. Notice anything you can hear, smell, taste or feel.
When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes and congratulate yourself on your practise.
'This article originally appeared on GLAMOUR UK'