It doesn’t take much effort, says the Perth Meditation Centre’s Eric Harrison, and from the growing body of research, it’s worth making time.
Mindfulness meditation, which focuses on awareness of feelings, sensations and state of mind, has been shown to alter regions in the brain associated with memory, empathy and stress.
Researchers at the University of Sydney found that using a traditional silent form of meditation had a far greater effect on stressed-out workers than relaxation or visualisation.
This could combat stress, depression, anxiety and even sick days.
In the zone: how to meditate
Relaxation is about loosening muscle tension and breathing, and you can do that within seconds, Eric Harrison said. Follow his simple “three sighs” exercise:
- Stop what you are doing and take a big breath.
- Sigh as you breathe out. Wait at the end until you need to breathe in again.
- Now sigh again, adding a yawn. This will stretch the muscles of the face and open up the throat.
- Wait even longer at the end of the second out-breath.
- Do one last gentle sigh and wait.
- Notice how different your body feels and how much your mind has calmed down, in just 30 seconds.
“When you meditate, focus on your breath or your body as well as you can, while noticing your thoughts with detachment,” Mr Harrison said.
“That’s all. If you can do this moderately well for more than 30 seconds, you will soon start to relax,” he said.
“By focusing on your body, you are not entertaining your thoughts, so you automatically relax.”
A gripe of many meditation newbies is annoying wandering thoughts.
Mr Harrison shares this tip: “Our thoughts don’t disappear when we meditate. We can’t help but notice an intruding thought but we don’t have to actively process it.
“We can usually disarm a thought just by labelling it as ‘work’ or ‘money’ and putting it in the background.”