MCC Daily Tribune
Learning to Meditate: Is It for Me?
Do you find your mind racing? Could you use a little break? Are you feeling at all disconnected as we approach the midpoint in the semester? When you’re pulled between coursework, personal life, and all kinds of responsibilities, it can be easy to get swept up in your thoughts. Meditation can be an excellent tool to let your thoughts and feelings flow naturally. Research surrounding meditation suggests that it can help with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. When we think about meditation, we may picture someone sitting crisscrossed on a cushion. Or maybe we picture a monk on top of a peaceful mountain. But the truth is, there are many different and special ways to meditate. When we embrace the present, we can operate from a place of acceptance, love, and self-compassion.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Do I need to be of a certain background to meditate?
- While meditation has religious origins and is used in many different cultural contexts, the truth is that meditation can be of benefit to everyone. You do not have to be religious or part of a specific group to meditate.
- How long does meditation last?
- Meditation can last for as long as you need it to. Some experienced meditators meditate for 5, 10, 15, 25, or even 60+ minutes a day. Meditation can be flexible to you and your schedule; the practice of meditation can look and feel different depending on the person practicing it. Try starting small and gently increasing length over time.
- Are there any special tools I need?
- No; All meditation requires is you! You can meditate sitting in a chair, sitting on a cushion, lying down, standing up, walking mindfully, or doing yoga... the list goes on.
- What do I do if I can’t focus?
- It’s entirely natural if you find yourself lost in thought when you meditate. Some days it may be easier to meditate, other days it may be harder. Whenever you find yourself lost in thought, try to follow your breath if you feel safe doing so. In… and out. Where do you feel the rise and fall of your breath? Is it in your chest? In your belly? At the tip of your nose? Wherever that place is for you, use it as your anchor and try to breathe as you normally would.
Where do I start?
- Insight Timer (iOS, Android). While there are many great meditation apps (Calm and Headspace are two additional alternatives), Insight Timer is completely free and features a library of thousands of free meditations. They offer a 7-day “Learn How to Meditate” course that will guide you through a different helpful practice each day. If you don’t have or want to use a smart device, that’s okay too. Meditation is a completely free practice.
- The following is a Deep Breathing exercise from the influential Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who recently passed away. It comes from his book “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” which contains many helpful exercises and is a suggested read if this topic is of interest to you.
“Lie on your back. Breathe evenly and gently, focusing your attention on the movement of your stomach. As you begin to breathe in, allow your stomach to rise in order to bring air into the lower half of your lungs. As the upper halves of your lungs begin to fill with air, your chest begins to rise and your stomach begins to lower. Don't tire yourself. Continue for 10 breaths. The exhalation will be longer than the inhalation.”
It is important to note that, for some people, meditation may bring some distressing emotions to the surface. If you need additional help with these thoughts or feelings, we encourage you to reach out to a professional counselor.
Counseling Center & Disability Services Team
Counseling Center & Disability Services