NoBS Meditation Basics
Updated: Jan 5
Just a couple of years ago, sitting cross legged on the floor with my palms towards the sky sounded like the weirdest thing in the world. I knew that many people did this thing called meditation and that there were claims of many benefits, but it seemed so far fetched and other worldly to me. Until I finally found an explanation of it that actually made sense through Dan Harris and his podcast 10% Happier, and now I cannot imagine life without it.
What is meditation?
For those uninitiated, meditation is a practice that has taken many forms through different cultures all around the world – whether it be Vipassana, Transcendental Meditation, or Loving Kindness, to name a few. However, the most popular form in the US is mindfulness meditation. According to the scientific definition, “Mindfulness meditation provides training in paying attention to thoughts and emotions as they unfold naturally and allowing them to pass without trying to avoid discomfort or to grasp onto pleasant experiences.” While the practice of meditation has been around for thousands of years, mindfulness was made popular in the western world by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 through his program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This was one of the first attempts at translating meditation out of a religious context and into the secular world.
There are many benefits to practicing meditation, especially when a consistent practice is established. These include, but are not limited to, reducing stress and anxiety, boosting your immune system, and allowing yourself to be more present in the current moment rather than thinking about the past or worrying about the future. In fact, much research has been conducted in recent decades that has scientifically proven that “mental training such as mindfulness meditation...has been shown to alter networks in the brain and improve emotional and physical well-being” according to research done by the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
The best part of meditation is that it can be free and easy to get started. Simply take one minute during your day to sit and focus on your breath. Try to find a time that you can do so at the same time every day, to help make it a habit – a lot of times that is when you first wake up in the morning, but can be whatever fits your schedule best. Once you notice that you are lost in a thought, note that and focus again on your breath. Continue doing so over and over again until the minute is up.
How to (easily) start meditating
If you’re feeling like this may be something you’re interested in but may need a little help to get started, there are many meditation apps out there now that provide guided versions as well – headspace, calm, 10% happier to name a few that are subscription based. There are also one time purchase apps like buddhify. If you live in a larger city, there may be live guided studios like one of our favorites - Chill Chicago. Whatever form it takes for you, the key is making it a consistent habit. Once you do that, the benefits will start to show up in likely subtle ways such as your close friends or family noticing a calmness in you that didn’t exist before. In fact, we like to think of meditation like a super power – you will be one of the few people in the room that can control your emotions so that they don’t affect yourself or anyone else around you.
Interested in learning more? Check out some of these other resources: