Mindfulness is the ability to focus on current experiences, thoughts, and tasks. One of the main tools for training mindfulness is meditation.
It is often associated with religious practices, incense and long chants, but modern meditation can last five minutes, be guided by an app, and not lose its effectiveness. Meditation helps you better cope with stress and anxiety, teaches you to concentrate and look at the world around you with a healthy eye.
We will tell you what secular meditation gives and how to find time for it in a busy schedule.
Why has meditation become popular?
For a long time, meditation practices were indeed inextricably linked with religion and were practiced in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Islam and even Christianity. Secular meditation acts more like an exercise - only it trains not muscles, but consciousness.
During meditation, the heart rate decreases and the level of anxiety decreases. After the first session of meditation, this effect may be short-lived and subtle, but with regular practice it persists for a long time. In the long term, meditation reduces the secretion of stress hormone cortisol. Studies show that meditation increases the density of the gray matter of the hippocampus, which is responsible for the transition of short-term memory to long-term memory, helps to improve sleep and even affects the quality of understanding other people's emotions.
Secular meditation trains the mind © Unsplash
What does meditation give?
Reduces stress and anxiety
Do you feel constant tension? One study  showed that meditation significantly reduced stress levels after three months of practice. In another study , scientists found that meditation practices decrease the density of brain tissue responsible for anxiety and anxiety. A person who meditates on a regular basis can more easily adapt to unusual and stressful situations.
Increases the ability to empathize
If you have little understanding of other people's emotions and are constantly withdrawn, meditation can help. There is the practice of Metta, also known as Loving Kindness Meditation, which positively affects the areas of the brain associated with empathy and processing other people's emotions. Its effectiveness is confirmed by a study  conducted in 2011.
Meditation also works for those who struggle for hours to find new ideas. Regular practice helps  to better find new solutions to problems, develops  unconventional thinking and improves  the perception and processing of new data. Scientists agree that it is easier for people who meditate on a regular basis to find a fresh solution and look at old data in a new way.
It doesn't matter if you want to learn a new language or remember over and over again the name of the managing partner - meditation will help with both. Studies  have shown that it improves your ability to remember, store and process new information.
Teaches you to focus
Constantly distracted by notifications and then can't remember what you were doing a minute ago? Meditation improves  cognitive function (learning ability) and has a positive effect on working on tasks that require attention. Completing work tasks requires less effort and time.
Meditation has a positive effect on working capacity © Unsplash
Meditation for Beginners: Books and Apps
The key to choosing a type of meditation is how comfortable you feel. If you need reminders for regular practice, set a recurring alarm or use the app. If you want candles and incense, feel free to add them. Do you want outside guidance? Specialists in meditation or the same applications will come to the rescue.
Vidyamala Birch and Denny Penman "Mindfulness Meditation"
An extensive guide to meditation for those who first want to learn as much information as possible
Ulrich Hoffmann "Meditation"
Exercises and tests to help you start meditating right away
Doris Iding "Mindfulness"
Practical advice and checklists for those who want to increase the "mindfulness" of life.
Headspace (iOS and Android)
A handy guide to help you start meditating from scratch. Voice guidance will explain in detail what posture to take, what to think about and how to breathe. There are programs designed for 1-3 minutes for quick meditation. The basic version of Headspace is free. The paid one (999 rubles per month) has programs for solving various problems: improving focus, reducing stress, and even to combat aggression.
Calm (iOS and Android, free)
On first launch, the application prompts you to select the goals you want to achieve through meditation. The list includes improving self-esteem, dealing with stress, improving sleep quality and, most simply, teaching meditation. Calm has complexes designed for different periods (from 7 to 21 days) and for different tasks and situations (for example, for students). Some of them are free, the rest are available by subscription (2,490 rubles per year).
PureMind (iOS, free)
PureMind is a holistic mindfulness app. The app includes audio meditation courses, short 5-minute ambulance meditations (quick relief from stress), relaxation music and sounds, and detailed meditation tips. The basic version is free, there is a premium subscription, within which the application develops an individual meditation program depending on the tasks (700 rubles per month, 3900 per year).
Meditation for beginners: 5 first steps
- Find a quiet place. It does not have to be silent if extraneous sounds do not bother you.
- Set your phone to night mode to avoid being distracted by notifications.
- Get into a comfortable position. Sitting on the "lotus" is not necessary, especially if you are uncomfortable. You can meditate while standing or sitting. But lying is not recommended: it can interfere with concentration.
- The simplest meditation begins with focusing on the breath. Close your eyes and try to focus on inhaling and exhaling. Most likely, within 10-15 seconds you will switch to some extraneous thoughts. This is normal - the main thing is to fix this moment and return to breathing.
- If you can't concentrate on breathing, imagine a boat in a stream or a bright car in a stream of other cars. Focus on the movement of one object, returning to it if something distracts you. The main principle is not to linger on thoughts, but to let them go and concentrate on the main thing - on inhalation and exhalation.
Daily meditation can take 5-10 minutes in the morning or before bedtime - the choice of time and place depends only on your convenience. If you feel uncomfortable meditating at work, take your class home or to your favorite coffee shop.
You can meditate while sitting or standing © Unsplash
What if you don't have time to meditate?
- Prioritize. If you think that the effect of meditation will be useful for you, then you can set aside five minutes on your schedule. You can meditate in the morning, before bed, or even in traffic.
- Make it a habit. Meditation can be easily linked to other daily activities such as brushing your teeth, showering, or making coffee. Try to accustom yourself to the same pattern of action: breakfast-wash-meditation.
- Add meditation to your to-do list or calendar. If you are used to timing your time by the minute, look at the schedule and find a break to record your meditation. Let it be a challenge, not a random decision.
- Continue the next day. Missed one meditation? This does not mean that you are hopeless and all efforts have gone to waste. At the heart of meditation is a constant return to the same thing - so if you miss a day, just go back and start again.
What large companies use meditation?
Steve Jobs was one of the closest CEOs to spiritual practices. He tried to convey his love of meditation to the employees of the company, which is why it was with him that special rooms for meditation appeared at Apple and permission for daily 30-minute meditation was introduced.
McKinsey & Co
The company uses meditation as one of the tools of the HR department. Their strategy is to keep employees happy and healthy, and meditation practices are perfect. The company develops meditation programs not only for internal departments, but also for its clients - according to representatives, this can save millions of dollars.
In 2007, the company launched the Search Within Oneself program, which attracted more than 500 employees to meditative breathing courses. Google regularly runs meditation courses and has dedicated spaces, all thanks to the belief that meditation can not only improve the spiritual well-being of employees, but also strengthen the company.
The TV network devotes a lot of time and resources to keeping employees as healthy as possible, both physically and mentally. Therefore, HBO offices have equipped gyms, and class schedules include courses in meditation and yoga.
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