Meditation - Key to reducing stress

Studies have shown that meditating can increase immunity, defuse negative emotions, lower blood pressure and reduce the effects of stress. And unlike prescription drugs, it's free and has no unpleasant side effects. More than anything else, it is a great way to unwind and improve one's health in one go. But how to go about it?

According to experts, we need to meditate at least 10 minutes a day. Ten minutes may sound easy enough, but in our multitasking culture, carving out that time can be downright hard. Finding time is the number one obstacle to developing a regular practice. Even if you start off with default five minutes, it will get you sitting. Once you're there, you will enjoy it and you'll take five more minutes.
It is recommended that you start meditating as soon as you wake up. Set the alarm, bypass the coffeemaker and head straight for your practice. Once you turn the coffeepot on, then you turn on the news and the next thing you know, you are absorbed in other things. Once you're out of bed, head for a straight-backed chair. Sitting on the edge of a hard chair with your spine a few inches away from the back of the chair is a good way to keep sleepiness at bay.

To begin meditating, close your eyes. Focus your attention on the sound of your own breathing. Let your stomach expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale, allowing the breath deeper into your lungs and encouraging the physiological effects of relaxation. Anytime your mind begins to wander and it will, don't be hard on yourself when you realize it has happened again gently bring it back to the sound of your breath.

Just this action of focusing on your breath for 10 minutes a day is enough. "Most people make meditating overcomplicated. They think they should get up at 4:30 in the morning, do a half hour of yoga, a half hour of meditation and some inspirational reading. When it becomes too exhausting, they end up doing nothing. By learning how to maintain a simple meditation practice, we can begin to figure out how to make our busy lives less complicated and less stressful.

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