Cognitive Skills: A simple approach to Meditation
Meditation is a powerful exercise and skill that holds many benefits and applications.
Many people who have not been exposed to meditation in the correct manner discount its value simply because they do not understand that meditation is a skill that needs to be developed. The concept is similar to learning to stand on a balance beam: every time you “fall off” you must get right back on and attempt to refocus your attention. If you are committed to multiple trials within a set period of time (say 15 minutes a day), overtime your ability to mediate will increase and you will reap the many mental and physical rewards.
There are multiple forms of meditation.
Transcendental Meditation is a mediation that involves directing and focusing one’s attention on a specific stimulus. For example it could be a word ( a mantra), sound, sensation, thought, image, or another object.
Mindfullness meditation differs in that it encourages your mind to wander and accepts what your body feels as a result. Both forms are beneficial in managing anxiety, stress, pain and sleep problems. They are also effective in improving concentration, attention and memory.
Two simple exercise to get you started and build up your stamina are :
a. Sit in a quiet room and softly play a song or some consistent sound that has a tempo in sync with the mood you are looking to create. For example, if you are looking to feel relaxed select a mellow, slow rhythm. If you are looking to feel more vibrant then select something more fast pace. Now close your eyes and focus your attention solely on that sound. When your mind starts to wander, catch your self and force your attention back on the sound. Eventually your ability to control your attention and thus thoughts will improve. Do this for 15 minutes.
b. Sit in a quiet room and focus your attention on your breathing. Focus your attention on the exhalation of your breath. Allow your breath to flow naturally as you notice the rhythm of the pace and the intensity. Maintain your focus on your breath even if you start to fall asleep or your mind starts to wander. Observe the thoughts that enter your mind but don’t linger on them and attempt to return to focusing on your breath. Do this for 15 minutes.