The health benefits of meditation are seemingly endless, though the practice itself may seem daunting for those who are constantly hustling, constantly on the go. However, the past year put a pause for many on that constant hustle. For many, it enhanced fear and anxiety as the world dealt with a global health pandemic. Many people lost loved ones, battled illness themselves and saw their ways of life change abruptly. Of the many benefits of meditation, certainly we all could have and can continue to benefit from a moment of peace and sense of calm. Meditation can provide this and much more.

World Meditation Day was organized to bring awareness to the benefits of meditation around the world. Various groups and organizations get involved annually, from yoga instructors to health and wellness experts to religious groups. Categorized as more of a ‘movement’ than a holiday, per se, World Meditation Day seeks to bring attention and awareness to the ways people can reduce stress and maintain a healthy physical and psychological lifestyle.

History of Meditation

Meditation has a long history throughout the world. There are images of cross-legged individuals in what appear to be meditative positions in India’s wall art dating back to 5000 BCE (Before Common Era). For some religions, meditation is an important part of worship and it has been known as a part of Chinese Taoist and Indian Buddhist traditions. However, meditation has expanded far beyond the ideological notions of religion. 

The English word ‘meditation’ stems from meditatum, which is Latin for ‘to ponder.’ The practice is thousands of years old but as society continues to place more emphasis on the importance of mental health, it is much more commonplace these days.

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has evolved into an activity and practice that is done to promote relaxation and stress relief. It requires one to focus on what is going on in the present moment by purifying the mind – many commonly refer to it as mindfulness. Experts agree that focus and concentration are the two main elements to meditation practice. The benefits are plentiful, including: 

  1. Stress Reduction – the concentrated breathing exercises associated with meditation can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

  2. Helps with Anxiety – focusing on your heart rate and breathing brings attention to the present moment.  Over time, continuing these mindfulness techniques can help reduce anxiety levels.

  3. Increase Productivity – because meditation hones on the ability to focus, many employers have integrated meditation into the workplace and encourage employees to take time to meditate each day.

How to Meditate

Many find the beauty of meditation to be that it is what you make of it. For some, spending just five minutes a day can do wonders; for others, an hour of meditation is what they need. There are various apps that offer meditation sessions you can listen to on your phone, PC or other smart devices. If you’re new to the practice and want to start without that guidance, here are some tips from

1 – Sit Down – Find a place to sit that is calming and quiet for you.

2 – Set a Time Limit – For beginners, it is recommended to choose a short amount of time, such as five or ten minutes.

3 – Pay Attention to Your Body – Whether you are seated in a chair or cross-legged on the floor, make sure you are stable and in a position where you can stay still for an allotted amount of time.

4 – Feel Your Breath – Breathe in and breathe out. Follow the sensation of your breath as you inhale and exhale.

5 – Notice When Your Mind Has Wandered – It’s difficult to immediately shut our minds down. If you notice your mind wandering, refocus on your breathing.

6 – Be Kind to Yourself – Don’t be frustrated if your mind wanders – it’s natural. Don’t obsess over it or start judging yourself – just come back to your breathing. 

7 – Close with Kindness – When the time you have set has ended, open your eyes (if they were closed) and take a moment to notice any sounds around you. Take notice of how your body, thoughts and emotions feel at that moment. Thank yourself for setting aside that time for your mind and soul.

Taking five or ten minutes every few days is a great way to start – and if you can, taking that amount of time or more everyday, as your schedule and life allows, will undoubtedly provide some peace to your life. On this year’s World Meditation Day, make a point to ensure you take a few moments for your mind and self.

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