Jan Risher -

Meditating has never come easy for me. However, this weekend my interest in meditating was piqued once again. I read an article that gave the results of an experiment with two groups of people — with one group meditating 30 minutes every day for eight weeks and the other not.

At the beginning and end of the eight weeks, scientists scanned the brains of everyone who participated in the experiment. When all was said and done, the group that had meditated had measureable changes in the gray matter density in parts of their brains associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and loss.

So, my post-Labor Day resolution is to start meditating. Since my kids are both in school now (we did virtual school last year), I have some quiet in my home in the mornings. This morning, I tried my first attempt in a long while toward meditating. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I remembered it from years ago. In fact, I actually enjoyed it.

I read several pieces giving advice on ways a beginner can begin to meditate. Basically, here’s what I gathered:

1)   Sit on the ground, if possible — lotus position not required. If you don’t on the ground/floor, sit in a chair with both feet on the floor.

2)   Think about the vertebrae in your spine. Starting with the bottom of your spine, start stacking each on the one below it. This will have you sitting perfectly balanced and you should find it easy to maintain and relaxing. For starters, let your arms just hang.

3)   Close your eyes and try to relax your whole body. Do a mental scan of your body to find parts that may not be completely relaxed. When identified, relax that part.

4)   Focus only on breathing in and out. The big idea of meditating is to silence your mind. If (and when) things float into your mind, don’t chastise yourself. Just let the thoughts go and focus on your breathing. Some people like to count their breaths.

5)   Start with five minutes. Work up to 30.

Give it a try. See what you think!