Here is what I have learned about meditation.
Benefits I have seen for myself: decreased stress and anxiety, and ability to respond to most things in a calm manner. Also decreased irritation and anger.
There are studies coming out all the time proving that meditation causes physical changes in the brain. E.g., if you meditate ten minutes a day for three weeks, an MRI will show changes to your wiring.
Here is how I meditate:
- Sit upright in a firm chair. (You don't want a chair too comfortable, as you'll doze off or will have a hard time focusing.)
- Set my phone timer for ten minutes. Close my eyes.
- Focus on my breath. Breath in. Hold. Breath out. Sometimes I count -- slow four count for full breath in, then slow four count to hold, then slow six count to release then two count to hold. (I am now also studying pranayama breathing.)
- Distraction. Often I will suddenly realize that I've forgotten about my breath, and that I've wandered to think about my kids or my job or something else. Do not get discouraged. Distraction is natural. When you've discovered that your mind has wandered, you then have an amazing opportunity to refocus on your breath. This refocusing is like doing 10 pushups for your brain. It is training you to be calm, to bring things back. By having this refocusing happen thousands of times over many weeks or months, you are rewiring your brain to have muscle memory for calmness.
Please share your meditation stories with me, as I would like to learn from other's experiences.
See also my Buddhism list and reducing pain.