Do you know these days when you are incredibly stressed out of your PhD? You feel that you are completely out of balance? You try to hold on and suddenly, just when you cannot afford it, you get sick. As if your body gives you the signal to slow down.
Nowadays, it’s always about performance. Many even feel bad when they are less productive than usual. But what if I tell you that you don’t have to do anything, to be more relaxed and happier?
Doing nothing makes you happy? That’s right, at least in terms of meditation. And more: people who regularly meditate, can concentrate better, have a stronger immune system and much less stress. Meditation is good for the soul. It can contribute to relaxation and promote your mental balance.
Doing nothing makes everything better?
Only by sitting and watching your own breath? Can it be that easy? Since meditation, detached from all religion, is also a trend in the West, scientists have set out to find out to investigate what is actually happening there.
The power of thought
The brain can learn through meditation to come to rest and concentration. After some practice there are still thoughts, but you can look at them and let them go again. Without judging, without getting emotionally involved in the thought. And finally, everyone recognizes their patterns and learns that everything, the fearful thought, the self-judgment, the doubt, are just thoughts. Not more. That makes you calm and has a positive effect on the body. It relaxes the tiny muscles that surround the blood vessels. The blood pressure drops. And at the same time, this peace in the body has an impact on the immune system.
To find out how meditation affects the immune system, researcher Carolyn Y. Fang from Temple University in Philadelphia examined 24 subjects who participated in an eight-week meditation program. In the beginning and within two weeks of completing the study, participants completed a questionnaire and delivered blood.
As expected, the program resulted in significant improvements in stress and anxiety among many participants. However, when the blood samples were examined, it was also found that killer cell activity was increased after the study and less of an inflammatory marker, the C-reactive protein (CRP), was found in the blood. Thus a clear connection between meditation and an improvement of the immune status of the participants could be shown.
Just 10 to 15 minutes a day is enough to feel the positive effects of meditation.
Learning meditation – A little guide and helpful apps
Well, how does it work with meditation? How can we learn meditation? What exactly do you do during meditation? If you’re thinking of meditation, you’ll probably come across images of Indian yogis sitting rigidly like a stone figure, evidently not doing anything. This is meditation, but it can look very different, too. Because meditation can also take place when you’re talking to someone, when you’re having a shower, walking or just falling asleep. Meditating simply means becoming aware of yourself. And you can always do that, in every situation. When you start to learn meditating, I recommend that you make yourself as easy as possible. That means you do not do anything else at the time. One focuses exclusively on meditation.
1. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Take a chair or a seat cushion and sit down. Turn off your phone before – or make it soundless, so you will not be disturbed. Take an alarm clock with you to your place of meditation.
2. Set this alarm to 5 minutes. That’s enough for the beginning!
3. Then check that you are sitting reasonably well. Set up your spine. You can also imagine having an invisible cord attached to the tip of your head, which gently pulls you upwards. Loosen all clothing that is uncomfortable. You can just lay your hands in your lap – or put them on your knees – just as you want. Close your eyes.
4. Breathe in and out 5 times to relax a bit more.
5. Now just watch your breath as it gently flows in and out at the tip of the nose. Just watch your breath. Otherwise you do not have to do anything. Just watch your breath. When your thoughts drift off, just gently return to your breath. Always return to your breath and just watch it. In the beginning your thoughts will probably drift away frequently – or you’ll get bored. That’s fine. Be gentle with yourself. Just return to your breath. For 5 minutes. Keep your eyes closed and stick to it until the alarm rings. No matter what goes through your head. Even if you think: “Such a waste of time, in the time I could now …. do”. Just stay with it. These thoughts are normal.
6. Again and again, gently return to your breath. Just think of your thoughts as a radio station that runs while you do something else. The radio is on, but you do not let it distract you. You stay with the thing you do, you stay with your breath. For 5 minutes.
7. That’s all! Meditation is not complicated. On the contrary – it is very simple. The only challenge is to sit down and take your time!
In order to complete the daily
training, meditation apps are available that allow meditation regardless of
location and at any time. Apps like 7Mind, Stop Breathe&Think , Calm, Headspace ,and 10% Happier are great for learning meditation.
Each of these meditation apps has its own merits and special focus. Depending on the goal you want to achieve, whether you have been involved in meditation and mindfulness for some time, what design and functionality you like, and which speakers you feel comfortable with, these meditation apps will help you to live more mindfulness. After some time you will probably no longer need the guided meditations and be able to meditate without instruction for a longer period of time.
It could not be easier to do something good for your health than just doing nothing. Just relax! 😉