Much research has been conducted to examine the effects of meditation from reducing anxiety, increasing attention, and slowing down the aging process on your brain. In a nutshell, meditation can be an effective practice. And while meditation might not be recommended for everyone, the usefulness of meditation can be wide reaching. So, let’s assume that you have read a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of meditation programs and decided that meditation might be helpful to you in your management of anxiety, stress, attention, and so on. Now what?
First, meditation is not a complicated exercise. However, “not complicated” does not necessarily mean “not difficult”. For many people, the idea of being still and not constantly seeking distraction can be very uncomfortable (as I recently wrote about in this blog post). And for others, that discomfort can be significant, especially if there is a past trauma and the person lacks adequate coping skills to address the symptoms of trauma. When you are ready to try meditation, you can choose to do it in a group setting (in person or online) or all by yourself. And if you are looking for meditation aimed at lawyers specifically, that’s available too.
So, here are my tips to introducing yourself to meditation:
- Don’t over think it, that’s kind of the whole point.
- Sit comfortably and just breathe.
- Focus your attention on the present moment (notice your physical sensations and thoughts)
- Leave judgement at the door (when you notice your thoughts wandering away to something other than your present moment, bring your thoughts back to the present moment without judgment or self-criticism).
- Practice acceptance (it’s about practice, not perfection. Accept that it is a process. Accept yourself for who you are. Accept meditation for what it is and for what it is not.)
The simple practice of meditation can be integrated into a busy schedule, it can help lower stress, reduce anxiety, and help those who practice it to be more in touch with their physical, mental, and emotional needs. If you have never tried meditation, give it a try. What do you have to lose?
Shawn Healy, PhD