By Kaila Stang
JRN 217: Journalistic Reporting and Writing
Do you ever feel like you are stuck in your own head? That no matter how hard you try, you just can’t turn your brain off? You are not alone, and the solution is simple.
Meditation is a way to calm your mind. You close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and let yourself settle into the present moment. Meditation reduces stress, controls anxiety and promotes emotional health. And with all of the craziness going on around us in the world right now, who wouldn’t want to reap these benefits?
“What I get the most out of meditation is the greater ability to meet any of my life’s difficulties or circumstances with a lot more compassion and love and growth and understanding,” said Amanda Gilbert, a professor at the University of Southern California Center for Mindfulness Science.
Gilbert’s mission is to help people live a full life of well-being by making meditation and mindfulness part of their day-to-day lives. Gilbert can’t imagine her life without meditation, she said, and so she encourages everyone to begin.
So start by taking a seat. Close your eyes, and begin to notice your body. If you are sitting in a chair, do your feet touch the floor? Are your arms crossed in front of you, or do they hang at your side. Do you feel yourself slouching, or are you sitting upright?
Do you feel comfortable? It is important to be in a position that you can stay in for the duration of your meditation.
Your next focus should be on your breathing. Follow the sensation of your breath as you breathe in and out. Make sure to breathe through your belly instead of your chest.
“Always remember to count your breaths, because it will give you something to concentrate on,” JoAnne Romanelli, a meditation teacher on Long Island, said. “You breathe in one, exhale for one. Breathe in two, exhale for two. Breathe in three, exhale for three, and so on.”
When meditating for the first time, you may find your mind starting to wander. It is strange to sit in silence with all of your inner thoughts. Do not judge yourself for this. Just try to bring your mind back to the act of meditation.
Meditation instructor Jean Tobin has been practicing for over 50 years, and she has a memorable tip for beginners.
“Practice 20 minutes twice a day if you are 20 years old. Practice 21 minutes twice a day if you are 21 years old, and so on. And make sure to always give yourself two minutes at the end to get yourself out of it,” Tobin said.
If you are going through the anxiety of “I just can’t shut my mind off,” meditation just might be the right answer to get you through these troubling times.