In 2016, 16.2 million people in the US had an episode of major depression ,while another 40 million Americans suffered from anxiety. It isn't hard to feel these symptoms as we begin to live more isolated lives with interactions primarily through electronics. Within the medical field, there is not much providers can do to prevent the mental illnesses and the treatment tends to be medications. But what can people do to help prevent or reduce the symptoms? Meditation might be one answer. Meditation is a mental exercise which helps train the mind to improve awareness and develop mental clarity. In fact, a literature review of 47 research trials showed that meditation resulted in a significant reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you are new to meditation, here are 3 simple steps to get you started.
Step 1: Find a quiet room
Find a quiet room with very few distractions. Make sure electronics are turned off. If it is too loud in your building, try to find a quiet place outside.
Step 2: Sit or lie down
When starting out we recommend using a chair; however, this step can be performed with a zafu cushion or laying down. If using a chair, sit with your back straight up feet firmly pressed to the ground. Relax you hands wherever is most comfortable for you, usually resting on the thighs. If laying down relax your arms to the side on the ground.
Step 3: Close your eyes and focus on your breathing
Close your eyes and start taking some deep breaths in then slowly exhale. Focus on how your muscles and chest are moving with each breath both during inhalation and exhalation. Continue to just focus on your breathing. You'll notice different thoughts start to emerge. Thoughts such as things you need to to, people you need to text or call, and so on. Try to return your focus to your breathing when this occurs. This will help improve your ability to focus and concentrate without being distracted.
Aim for around 5 minutes to start. Try each day to add a few more minutes to your routine. How long should you meditate? That will depend on what you want to achieve and will vary from person to person but consistency is key. Remember monks meditate for 6-8 hours a day! If you find yourself needing more advance meditation supplies feel free to check out our section on Zen Living. We offer unique products specifically geared towards helping the mind focus.