Meditation 101 – how long? how often? what type?

MEDITATION…

  • it helps train the nonstop brain chatter
  • the more experienced the meditator, the bigger the change in brain structure
  • meditating is like going to the gym: the more you go, the stronger, fitter and younger your brain

TOOLS FOR MEDITATION…

  • use a timer (I like the Insight Timer app, see photo) when you meditate so that you’re not distracted by thinking about the time
  • a cushion or meditation chair or regular chair can help support your body

HOW SHOULD I POSITION MY BODY?

  • bring your spine in alignment: pelvis, rib cage, skull
  • seated on a cushion or chair, maybe with your back against a wall
  • laying down with your knees bent

HOW MUCH TIME? Studies show…

  • 30 minutes per day for 8 weeks can increase the density of gray matter in brain regions associated with memory, stress, and empathy (RESOURCE)
  • 20 minutes per day for 4 days improves cognitive skills (RESOURCE)
  • 20 minutes per day for 3 days result in a significant decrease in pain sensitivity (RESOURCE)
  • 10 minutes per day for 16 weeks show significant improvements in neural functioning associated with enhanced focused attention (this study)

WHEN SHOULD I MEDITATE?

  • two short 5-minute meditation breaks at the beginning of the day and early evening can serve as moments of stillness to punctuate your day
  • take a 30-second meditation before going into a meeting or getting on the phone with a client
  • find time for a 1-minute session before lunch
  • take 20 long, slow, focused breaths in the women’s bathroom can replace anxiety or uncertainty with a sense of calmness

STARTING A PRACTICE…

  • start slowly and build up a practice
  • begin with 1 minute in the morning and in the evening for a week, then move to 2 minutes the next week, and so on
  • get into the habit; this is not a quick fix, but something to be viewed as a life long practice

Adhere to the ancient Zen proverb – You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.