Meditation dates back millennia and allows you to find inner peace through mindfulness and concentration exercises. There are different forms of meditation, including yoga. Learning to meditate isn't difficult. We show you simple exercises you can complete at home.
Meditation is a method for achieving mental relaxation, an act of mindfulness and concentration. The Latin origin of the word «meditatio» means to ponder, reflect or preparation. The roots of meditation lie in eastern traditions and several religions know this spiritual practice. However, there is nothing religious or esoteric about meditating – the relaxation technique works great without spirituality. There are numerous forms of meditation, including yoga meditation, zen meditation and transcendental meditation. What all forms of meditation have in common is the maintenance of a specific body posture and a focus on a single thing, such as breathing or your own body. Other relaxation methods like mindfulness training (mindfulness-based stress reduction MBSR), autogenic training, respiratory exercises and yoga also work with meditation and breathing. Meditation and mindfulness training can be learnt alone or as part of courses.
Learn meditation: a guide for beginners
You have hardly sat down and your thoughts are already running wild? Your legs and feet fall asleep? This is completely normal. Keep patient and try out the following tips:
- Choose a quiet place to meditate
Ensure that you will not be disturbed. Not by people, surrounding noises or digital devices.
- Meditate regularly, ideally at a fixed time
Make meditation a daily ritual. Ten minutes is enough to begin with – and your sessions can be expanded as required.
- Warm and comfortable clothing
Those who sit still quickly cool down. Make sure to wear loose and warm clothing, possibly a scarf around your shoulders and thick socks.
- Find a comfortable seating position
Whether the lotus position from yoga, a cross-legged position or sitting on your heels – you need to feel at ease. A cushion, towel or chair can help you to remain stable and nevertheless relaxed.
- Assume a straight body posture
Straighten your spine, tilt your chin slightly towards your chest, relax your shoulders and allow them to fall backwards. Place your hands on your knees or on your lap in a relaxed manner. You can now breathe freely.
- Let go of your thoughts
Accept the thoughts that come into your mind but don’t get hung up on them. You are simply an observer, meaning you should perceive them and let them go.
- Pay mind to your breathing
When meditating, your breathing serves to stabilise your restless mind and allows you to reach a state of calm. Our mind is constantly at play, looking both forward and back. Those who focus on their breathing remain in the present.
- Observe an object
How to control your thought stream: position a neutral object two metres in front of you on the floor and observe it while you consciously pay attention to your breathing and count your breaths. To begin with, your mind will perhaps already begin to stray at seven. Your concentration will improve.
Meditation and health: what are the effects of meditation and mindfulness?
Meditation and mindfulness exercises have a positive effect on our whole body. We are able to handle stress better, experience inner calm and find a balance. These mental factors in turn influence our bodily functions including our blood pressure, immune system and cholesterol level. Various neuroscientific studies show how meditation and mindfulness exercises actually change our brain’s activity and structure. Meditation and mindfulness make us more resistant to stress, help with depression, fear, sleeping disorders and pain, strengthen the immune system and cardiovascular system and improve our feeling of well-being in general. An overview of scientific studies can be found on the yoga wiki (German only). The German online yoga school www.yogaeasy.de summarises the benefits of meditation in an infographic.
Many people have lost contact with their bodies and no longer notice emotions or more subtle feelings at all. This is, however, a key requirement for enabling us to look after ourselves. Mindfulness meditation and yoga help us to perceive the moment and ourselves, to be present and to accept what is there. Mindfulness promotes self-regulation. Would you like to improve your mindfulness and increase your feeling of well-being? The website (German only) of the German Centre for Mindfulness offers guides and videos on the topic of mindfulness, how you can practice mindfulness in everyday life, mindfulness at the office, mindfulness against stress, etc.