Many people talk about mediation these days, like it’s some kind of fad, but it’s been around for thousands of years. It’s a useful tool that many find reduces anxiety and adds enjoyment to their lives. It’s also one of the best ways to learn how your individual brain works.
You can learn a lot by sitting still and observing your thoughts and tendencies. You learn that you are completely separate from your thoughts and urges. You’re just observing them. They don’t have to be acted upon. Sit. And think.
Meditation quiets the mind and allows you to experience the world free of your opinions and beliefs. Many proponents of meditation believe that our natural state is one of happiness, but our perceptions and beliefs are faulty and can get in the way of true happiness and contentment.
Research has shown that meditation can have a number of benefits for both physical and mental health. For example, it can help reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and increase feelings of well-being and happiness. Meditation is a practice that involves training the mind to achieve a state of relaxation, focus, and inner peace, which is why it has been practiced for thousands of years in various cultures and traditions.
While there are meditation retreats, camps, and expert instructors available for hire, you can learn enough on your own to be thrilled with the results. Remember that books and free videos are available, too. Specifically, we have several psalms that were written with the intention of aiding the Israelites in meditation.
You can use meditation as a tool to reduce anxiety and worry. How can you do this? Here are some suggestions:
1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. It can be a couch, chair, or pillow on the floor. What’s important is that you be comfortable. Staying motionless is important. Jesus suggested a closet or inner room with no windows. Something firm can be more comfortable after a few minutes than something soft.
2. Start by focusing on your breathing. Just notice and feel the air moving past your nose or lips. Feel your chest expanding and collapsing. Do your best to stay with your breath. Eventually, your mind will wander. It might not take long, but the length of time will increase with practice.
3. Try your best not to get distracted. For now, just catch yourself when you start daydreaming or thinking about anything other than your breath. Return your focus to the breath. Observe the thought without engaging with it. You’ll know you’re doing it wrong if you become emotional in any way. Just notice the thought and sit with it. It will fade on its own if you keep your distance. Then, return to your breathing. You might find it helpful to meditate on one specific Scripture or thought. Check out the 22 minute meditation prompts we've provided on YouTube.
4. Decide on a specific amount of time. Start with five minutes but extend the time to at least 20 minutes. Meditation is more work than you think. Be gentle with yourself and start slowly. Increase the time over the coming weeks. It's okay to use a timer or meditate to certain songs. When time is up just breathe deep and take on the day!
That’s it! It can be that simple to greatly reduce your anxiety and tendency to worry. Mastering meditation can take years, but you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy great benefits from meditation. Be patient. It’s not as easy to sit for 20-30 minutes as you think.
It's important to note that mental health is very important. I highly encourage you to visit with a mental health professional if you (or a loved one) struggles with mental health. There is hope! Take your mental health seriously.
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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