The Benefits of Meditation

Our lives can be hectic and stressful, and sometimes that stress can make feel us impatient, exhausted, frustrated, and sad. While you may not be able to remove all that is stressful from your life (be it work, family or school), you can manage your stress a little better through meditation. A simple, short, 10 to 15 minute meditation can help you to slow down, get calm, and allow you to refocus. If you’ve ever found yourself in a rut of negative thinking, meditation can help with this, too. Meditations can help you not only find balance but also control.

Meditating can be extremely beneficial when it comes to practicing martial arts. As you meditate, your awareness is heightened as your mind begins to calm. Awareness is a crucial part of any martial arts practice, as you cannot fight or block an attack without it. Also, in relaxing your mind your body will become less tense, giving you better stamina and more energy overall. Adding meditation as part of your martial arts practice, will allow you to isolate footwork, balance, flow, timing, and state of mind, making a world of difference in your katas. Here are some helpful tips for learning how to meditate:

Start Small
The biggest deterrent from meditation is often how daunting it can feel to sit still and quiet for a long period of time. To make the learning process easier on yourself, start with a simple 3 to 5 minute meditation. During that time, try not to think about sitting still. Instead, focus on breathing. This will allow you to concentrate on something you can control and make the minutes pass quickly.

Be Mindful of Your Body
Try and remember to keep your body and your eyes alert during meditation. This will allow you to gain the most from the experience. If you can, keep your eyes open and softly focused low in front of you. This will allow you to be more present, and can help keep your mind from wandering too far. It is important to also have good posture during meditation. If your spine is straight and your body is well-balanced it has been shown to help your mind find its way there also. To help you straighten up, imagine you’re trying to touch the sky with your head.

Be Aware of Your Emotions
Strong emotions can seriously hinder your ability to meditate. Anger and shame are the hardest to focus and calm, as they create stories that repeat over and over again in the mind and plague us with negative thoughts. Don’t allow these emotions to get the better of you. Denying these emotions won’t make them go away, so make yourself aware of how you’re feeling while meditating if you find your mind wandering or your body tense. Try and confront the emotions and gain control of them. The best way to do this is to figure out where these emotions affect your body. For example, most people experience anger in a clinched jaw or tight chest. Focus on these parts of your body and working through the emotions that are causing the tensions to build there.

Silence can feel overwhelming and often people will play music while they meditate. It’s a good idea, as a beginner, to instead just sit with the silence. In silence there is healing, as you allow yourself to hear your body and mind more clearly, without any outside distractions. Sitting in silence will allow a steadiness and calmness to come to you so you can find a place of rest.

Meditate Your Own Way
Most people cannot relax and unwind fully from a guided meditation. Guided practice can be great resources for people who enjoy it, but for many of us it may not work. Instead of following someone else’s format for meditating, make your own. You can focus on stillness, a mantra, or simply your breathing. Whatever works to calm you and realign your thinking is what meditation is all about. There is no wrong way to meditate, so don’t let that stop you from trying.

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