Written by: INDEAL Cares Guest Blogger David Bryan, C
In a recent first blog post – Introduction to Meditation and Mindfulness, we mentioned numerous benefits associated with meditation practice, including:
· Many people report subjective benefits such as relaxation and stress reduction.
· Scientific experiments have confirmed physical benefits such as decreased heart rate, normalization of blood pressure, reduced stress hormones, and strengthened immunity.
· Other scientific studies have found evidence that long term meditation may actually result in physical changes in the brain, measurably thickening certain brain regions.
I love science, and the many beneficial lessons it has taught us. One of the most important lessons of science is that if an experiment is possible, conducting that experiment to get results is the preferred approach.
Your Own Simple Experiment: Meditation in One Minute
Talking about scientific experiments is informative, but the only way to actually benefit from meditation is to do it rather than talk about it, and the only experiment that really matters to you is the experiment you conduct yourself by trying it in your own.
So, in that spirit, here are some brief instructions on how you can conduct your own experiment with simple meditation, in only one minute.
1. Sit or stand in a comfortable upright posture. No “special” posture is required.
2. Settle yourself by taking 3 slow deep breaths –when you do this, your diaphragm stimulates the lower vagus nerve, promoting physical relaxation.
3. Engage a timer on your phone for 60 seconds, preferably with an alarm tone that is quiet and gentle rather than jarring.
4. Spend 60 seconds with your mind resting on only one thing: the silent repetition of the word “One”. Just repeat the word “One” silently in your head. It’s that simple.
5. If your mind wanders to something other than silent repetition of “One” (which would
be normal), simply return to the practice of silently repeating “One”.
6. When your gentle tone sounds after 60 seconds, stop the silent repetition of “One”, and ask yourself “How do I feel?”. Do you notice any physical relaxation? Does your mind seem any calmer? Do your emotions seem any more settled? Would you be willing to try the experiment for 60 seconds again tomorrow?
There are many kinds of meditation practices (including guided meditations, walking meditations, etc.) – this experiment is an example of “single-pointed meditation”, also called “concentration meditation”. Benefits of this style include:
1. It can be done so quickly that it’s easy to fit into a busy day.
2. It’s simple to do, yet powerfully beneficial over time.
3. If repeated daily, it strengthens the power of concentration, and self-awareness.
4. It has stood the test of time, with a track record of success for over 2,000 years.
Meditation is kind of like brushing your teeth – it’s most beneficial if you do it every day. It is also like learning any skill – the longer you maintain a daily practice, the more skillful you become, and the more noticeable the benefits become.
60 seconds allows a quick experiment, and avoids any barrier of “I don’t have time for that”; if you find the experiment worthwhile, you can try gradually lengthening the time you invest – whatever amount of time you have available, and what feels good to you, is the right time for you.
Using the word “One” emphasizes the “single-pointed” aspect of the experiment; you could also try the word “re-lax” (timing “re-“ on your in-breath, and “-lax” on your out-breath), which would emphasize the relaxation aspect of the experiment.
In our next post, we’ll discuss how the skills of concentration and self-awareness cultivated by meditation practice can benefit our daily activities when translated into mindfulness. Until then, enjoy your meditation experiments!