LEARN TO MEDITATE WITH
EXPERT BEN DECKER
If you’ve never meditated before, now is the time to start. You might be scrunching your face and thinking, “What good would meditating do for me? It’s just a waste of time, sitting there.” Totally understandable. In today’s world, we’re all about using every minute of every day to be productive. If we’re not doing something, it seems like we’re wasting our time. But recent changes to what life looks like have caused many to pay extra attention to their mental resilience.
If there is one practice you can integrate into your daily habits that positively affects your mind, body, and soul, its meditation. Keep it simple, or dive deep—with Ben Decker as your guide, you can begin meditating at your own pace and how it best fits your lifestyle and goals. And the benefits come into play immediately—how’s that for instant gratification?
Why we need meditation
The pace of our world today is exactly why we need meditation. With social media pounding our mental health, high levels of stress (even in our elementary students ), and what the U.S. Health Department calls the “Loneliness Epidemic” we’ve never had a greater need for meditation in every area of our lives.
Luckily, meditation is being taught in our schools and in the workplace, and experts on meditation are teaching you how to do it in the quiet of your own home.
HOW LIFE CALLS US TO
Meditation at home.
Hopefully you can find time for quiet at home. Just a few minutes to listen to your own breathing.
But what about your children? Family psychologists are finding that our children barely have time to breathe, let alone listen to their breathing. And when there is time for quiet, a screen quickly takes its place. But there is a surge in parenting blogs teaching about “the benefits of quiet time.”
Research has found that children who learn how to be quiet and alone are less lonely and adapt better to stressful situations. Create quiet time in your home. Whether it’s for you or for your kids, it’s worth it.
Meditation at work
As workplace stress increases, more businesses are looking for ways to teach mindfulness within the workplace. Meditation rooms are now heralded as the “hottest new work perk,” and better access to mental health benefits is becoming the norm. Big businesses like Google, Nike, and Proctor & Gamble have not only set up meditation rooms, they also offer free meditation instruction on site. The studies coming out of Harvard on the impact of meditation on sick employees is both promising and exciting.
Meditation at school
Our children are struggling with incredible amounts of stress. Many schools and teachers are trying to do something about it. Just a few years ago, news of a school in West Baltimore using meditation instead of detention and its powerful impact on students was all over online and print news.
More schools have started practicing yoga during P.E., teachers set up a time each day for mindfulness exercises, and studies on meditation in school is showing a positive impact on both learning and behavior.
Why this big push in our workplaces and schools? The long and short of it is the more we are inundated with social media and world news, the more stressed we become. The incredible villain of comparison tells us we must be “all the things,” and we need to push our children to be the same. Thankfully, meditation and mindfulness are there to help us make sense of it all.
Now you’re convinced—meditation is legit and worth the small time investment. Let’s introduce your personal meditation guide, Ben Decker, a revered meditation expert and generally all-around normal guy. He understands how life throws us around… but he’s mastered the art of responding rather than reacting to life. His tool for life is meditation.
Let Ben Decker be your expert meditation guide
Ben Decker is a social activist, meditation teacher, and entrepreneur. His love for meditation and ancient spiritual teachings began as a child. Ever the idealist and avid learner, his enthusiasm for meditation has won him praise as one of the world’s leading meditation teachers and a superstar meditation instructor. Ben shares his love of meditation across the world with a universal, well-rounded approach, rooted in ancient wisdom & modern pragmatism. He is the author of Practical Meditation for Beginners and the upcoming book A Year of Mindfulness (2020).
With Ben as our guide, we’re going to walk you through what meditation is, the benefits of meditation, how to meditate (including some techniques and exercises), and then give you some additional resources if you’d like to learn more and stack your meditation toolbox with on-demand sessions.
What is meditation, really?
Meditation trains your attention and awareness which allows you to achieve mental clarity and calm. When you are meditating, you are practicing mindfulness.
We sat down with Ben and asked him how he would explain mindfulness to a newbie. He said,
Mindfulness is total awareness. It’s allowing the conscious mind to saturate and fill the present moment. You allow in all the sensory things around you, if a car alarm goes off or a dog is barking, you let it in. We’re aware of it. We’re allowing it to be how it is, and we come back to the breath. We don’t allow ourselves to be concerned. We accept things as they are and know that they’re temporary.
What Meditation Can do for you
Meditation benefits the whole soul: mind, body, and spirit. It allows you to connect to each part and gives them time to heal. Here are some of the greatest benefits of meditation
Some of Ben’s favorite benefits of meditation
When you first start meditating, you’ll see some immediate benefits like01 | enhanced self-awareness
02 | improved sleep
When you’ve been practicing for years, you’ll see even more. Here are some that Ben has experienced:
I think the most tangible effects that I experienced from meditation started with being able to create some space between my awareness and what I was experiencing. So, I started to develop a relationship with my own mind, where there was some breathing room between who I am and what I am and the thoughts I was having.
Being able to separate who you are, your thoughts, and your emotions will give you01 | increased self-awareness
02 | tools to heal your body from stress and tension.
As Ben says, “The thoughts that we have don’t just occur in our brain, they occur in our entire nervous system. So, when you have a thought in your mind, notice what part of your body responds to that thought.
Ben noticed that when he was stressed, he didn’t breathe as deeply and decreased the amount of oxygen to his body. Meditation helped moderate that, and now he knows that when he’s stressed, deep breaths can make a huge difference.
Beginner meditation tips:
How to get started in a personal practice.
Whether you’re brand new to meditation or you’ve been doing it for years, here are some tips to enhance your experience.
How to meditate properly:
First of all, there is no “one way” to meditate. For some, sitting cross-legged and closing their eyes works best. Others lay flat on their backs. Still, others find that meditating while practicing yoga is the most effective. Some like perfect quiet. Others listen to calming music. However you meditate, here are some universal principles to keep in mind:
You should be comfortable.
Make sure you are in a position you can hold for a long time. If you’re meditating during yoga, choose a position such as child’s pose while you’re focusing on meditation.
Most of meditation includes listening to and focusing on your breath.
BE kind when your mind wanders.
If you find your mind wandering, don’t get discouraged. Bring it back to your breath and refocus.
how to meditate for beginners
How to meditate while moving:
If you are struggling to find a quiet time to meditate, you’re not alone. Or, maybe sitting still is difficult for you, either emotionally or physically. Here are some ways you can meditate and move:
Once you become familiar with the basic poses, you can meditate as you move. Restorative yoga in particular provides a great opportunity to meditate.
Yes! You can meditate as you vacuum, do the dishes, and wash windows. Simply practice focusing your mind as you perform tasks that are automatic, and you can enjoy all the benefits of meditation.
As Ben mentioned, walking provides a great time to slow your mind and focus on your breathing.
Mindful eating is beneficial in so many ways. By using that time to meditate, you can restore and energize body, mind, and spirit.
Drawing or coloring.
Coloring books for adults have gained popularity the last few years, and many are finding it a great way to meditate.
Ben’s thoughts on meditation and moving:
Anytime you eat is a great time to eat in a meditative way. Anytime you’re walking somewhere, I think those are some of the best ways to incorporate meditation into your life. Walking and eating slowly, mindfully, aware of what you’re doing, deliberately. Moving with deliberate intent and total awareness.
Meditation techniques and exercises
How long should you meditate?
When you’re first starting out, Ben Decker suggests meditating for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
“Five minutes a day is more beneficial than a once-a-year, 10-day retreat. If you really want to experience all the benefits, I recommend 20 minutes twice a day.”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at your brain on meditation.
While there isn’t research on whether or not 5 minutes vs. 20 minutes makes a huge difference to your brain, consistency does show a significant increase in memory, attention span, and concentration, while simultaneously reducing stress and anxiety. Those who meditate and continue to do so throughout their lives see benefits right away and also as they advance in years.
Along with different types of meditation, try a few of these exercises to feel out what works best for you:
Meditation books and Additional resources
If you’re just starting out on your journey to mindfulness, there are many resources out there to help you succeed.
First, we recommend Ben Decker’s book Practical Meditation for Beginners. He gives you 10 techniques for 10 days, a step-by-step method to making meditation part of your daily routine.
If you like podcasts, there are many out there that focus on different aspects of meditation. Here are four of our favorites:
MindValley is another incredible resource. With dozens of teachers, all experts in their field, teaching you about meditation techniques, it’s hard to go wrong. You’ll find guided meditation, meditation playlists, and podcasts on how to get the most out of your meditation sessions.
Speaking of guided meditation, ULCA Health has spent millions of research hours on the power of mindfulness and meditation. They have put together a free app called UCLA Mindful that has different levels of guided meditations.
Begin your journey with meditation
There is so much good coming from meditation and mindfulness. We love the way Ben puts it:
“Today, success means that I’m doing the right thing. Today, success means that I’m following my highest and deepest truth. It means that I’m being loving and generous in the ways that I can be. I feel blessed now. I feel a lot more flexible. I feel a lot more open to sharing and being present with other people.”
“Today, I feel like I am guided by my spirit rather than my body, rather than my thoughts, rather than my ambitions. I feel guided by the truth. I feel attracted to the truth. I feel welcomed into places. I feel appreciated. I feel understood. I feel loved. And I think a lot of that comes from my ability to even be more honest with people. When you’re not honest with people, they can’t access you. You’re not giving them the opportunity to even love you for who you are. So, I think that my integrity has increased. My ability to acknowledge my character defects has increased. I feel a lot more honest, a lot more happy, a lot more loving, and a lot more respectful.”