Ready to channel your inner zen?
So, you’ve heard of meditation. But do you know of the many meditation benefits calming your mind and tuning out can have?
Likely not, as there’s a whole host. So, as actor Chris Hemsworth launches a whole new meditation offering on his fitness app, Centr, we’ve picked the brains of Hannah Hempenstall, the meditation coach that collaborates with Centr on mindfulness content.
The Thor actor is a fan of mindfulness himself, saying: “With a few short meditations you’ll be feeling calmer – and be sleeping better – in no time. By just listening to one meditation each day, you’ll be feeling the benefits.”
Hempenstall agrees, adding that if treat it like building any other habit – carving out some time each day and being consistent – there’s a strong chance it’ll improve your mental wellbeing. “It’s no different to improving any other element of your health – the more you put into it, the more you will get back.”
Keep scrolling for an exclusive meditation from the app, alongside an expert explanation of what meditation is, how the practice can benefit you, and how to do it at home.
Meditation: your expert-led guide
So, what’s the definition of meditation?
In brief, meditation is a relaxation tool, explains Hempenstall. “The techniques are geared towards achieving specific outcomes – think reduced stress, improved focus and performance, and better sleep, to name a few.”
Meditation has its roots in Hinduism and Buddhism and is documented in the Bhagavad Gita, which was written from 400 to 200 BCE, according to the meditation expert. “The ancient texts describe a form of seated practice that included being laying down a deerskin over soft grass and being performed in a sacred place,” she explains.
Over time, the practice was adopted and further developed within Early Buddhism, she goes on. “That’s where Mindfulness was formed, which is considered one of the oldest styles of meditation and is still relevant today.”
So, how is meditation used today in the Western world?
As Eastern practices were more widely adopted by the West in the 1960s, meditation started to filter into the Western world.
“Transcendental Meditation (TM) became a movement, largely promoted by The Beatles and other celebrities of the era,” explains Hempenstall.
Today, you’ll see meditation on apps like Calm and Headspace and practiced by the likes of Adriene Mischler of Yoga with Adriene.
“We see loads of different types of yoga practices – some that incorporate pranayama, a type of yogic breathing meditation, and some that include mantra chanting, which is said to help connect us to higher powers, as well as more accessible styles,” she explains.
What are the main benefits of meditation?
Wondering how meditation or mindfulness generally can impact your day-to-day life?
It also has physiological benefits including decreased muscle tension and reduction in injuries, she continues.
Other benefits include stress management, increased self-awareness, increased attention span and a boost to both your creativity and focus levels.
Ultimately, how you benefit from it will be unique to you and your dedication to your practice. As Hempenstall points out, the key is to practice regularly. She warns not to expect to meditate once and become superhuman: “Just like strength training at the gym, you’ll reap the benefits with consistent practice.”
“It can take a few sessions before we learn to deeply relax as many of us are so highly strung without even realising. Persistence is key.”
A short how-to step by step guide to how to meditate for beginners doing it at home.
1. Find a guided meditation that you can follow along with – Centr being one.
2. Find a comfortable position.
3. Follow your breath for three to five counts.
4. Scan your body for any tightness or tension. Stay there until you feel it dissipate.
5. Return to the breath.
6. Counting down from ten, then starting again is another easy tool you can use if you’re feeling upset, overwhelmed or stressed.