Aalto avp mobile logo

“Because I always feel like running
Not away, because there is no such place
Because, if there was I would have found it by now
Because it’s easier to run,
Easier than staying and finding out you’re the only one… who didn’t run
Because running will be the way your life and mine will be described
As in “the long run”
Or as in having given someone a “run for his money”
Or as in “running out of time”
Because running makes me look like everyone else, though I hope there will ever be cause for that”

Gil Scott-Heron


What do you think? How do you feel? Does that feeling of running seem familiar to you?

We want you to stop running! But how?

We eat food, but we don’t taste it. We drink coffee while running. Anxiety and laxity of the brain lead to the monkey mind: the mind jumping from thought to thought without our control. We lose our focus and our peace.

Meditation is the answer to calming the monkey mind. The core concept of meditation is internally directed attention. It is like a mental gym. It was invented more than 2500 years ago as a Buddhist practice. Meditation has been practiced and evolved in different forms throughout history ever since. Every master and guru has some different and fascinating knowledge to share with mankind. However, in today’s world, we have become so busy that we forget to allow time for ourselves.

In short, meditation is the act of being aware of the present moment and living everything we do to the fullest. The common forms of meditation are mindfulness meditation, focus meditation, movement meditation and mantra meditation. Among these variations, mindfulness meditation and focus meditation on the breath are the most researched and popular forms of meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of slowing down thoughts, letting go of negativity and being able to be soaked in the present moment in a relaxed way. Having said this, it’s not something that can be practiced in one meditation session. It needs consistent practice. Perhaps 10 minutes a day can already do some wonders. There is a famous Zen proverb saying: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

Meditation affects basic human functions through attention. Attention is the key mechanism. It is very important where we put our attention. “Meditation is the capacity to attend to the experience of the present moment while paying attention to your attention.” (Otto Scharmer, Theory U)

We have a sympathetic system (flight or fight mode, stress, survival mode, acting based on instincts) and a parasympathetic system (relaxed, being empathetic to others, emotional). Meditation affects memory, cognitive ability, creativity, stress resilience and self-regulation in behavior.

Meditation is linked to the neuroplasticity of the brain. Dr. Richard Davison, who was considered among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in the year 2006, has dedicated his entire research on the neural bases of emotion and methods to promote human flourishing through meditation. His research includes methods like MRI, positron emission tomography, electroencephalography and others to understand the benefits of meditation. His research has shown that meditation, even short-term, is capable of shaping and changing gene expression, which could improve health and well-being. Just like how brushing our teeth has developed into a habit, so can meditation; even as little as 3 minutes a day can bring great benefits if practiced consistently.

“Mindfulness has been shown to have a positive effect on numerous psychiatric, psychosomatic, and stress-related symptoms, including depression and chronic pain. It has broad effects on physical health, including improvements in immune response, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.” (Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score)

”Studies have also shown that mindfulness and meditation physically increase the thickness of the cerebral cortex in the seahorse-shaped brain structure known as the hippocampus, positively affecting learning and memory. Meditation also reduces activity in the brain’s emergency-response center, the amygdala, which processes fear, anxiety, and stress.” (Iben Have, Calm)

Meditation helps us deal with the challenges of modern life, where there are lots of things tempting us all the time. Our brains are wired to seek out what we need quickly, but in today’s world, we’re surrounded by easy-to-get, processed foods and other distractions. This can mess up our natural balance. For example, if we crave chocolate, we can easily get some, but the good feeling doesn’t last long, and we end up wanting more. These constant desires make it hard to focus. Nowadays, we have more free time, money, and media telling us to indulge in whatever we want right away, like buying things or scrolling through social media. This might make us feel better briefly, but in the long run, it can make us feel uneasy and restless.

Meditation exercises might not be simple and effective for everyone. Trying out the exercises in difficult ways, forcing oneself into meditation rather than letting the body go with the flow, or even expecting the results right away can lead to giving up too quickly. It is advisable to experiment with different exercises and find the most suitable for one’s personal needs and preferences. Apart from that, varying these exercises can also help an aspiring meditator stick to the routine and make the process more enjoyable. Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult; you can meditate anywhere and anytime just by bringing yourself into the current moment and enjoying it to the fullest. Some exercises that can help cultivate the habit of meditation in our day-to-day lives are listed below.


Exercise #1: Guided Meditation

This is one of the best exercises for beginners, as they are guided by a narrator to focus on breathing, visualize themselves in some scenarios, or even do some gentle body movements. Listening and following the act can help them become engaged in the activity easily and disconnect from their racing thoughts.

An example of guided meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZToicYcHIOU&t=3s

Exercise #2: Body scan

Body scan in four steps:

  1. Sit or lay down.
  2. Relax your body while staying awake.
  3. Squeeze all the muscles in your body and then let them relax completely. There is no need to do anything else — just be there.
  4. Start paying attention to your right foot and take a moment just feeling it. Give similar attention to every part of the body, starting either from head to toe or vice-versa.

An example of Body Scanning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBgSx56PPP8

Exercise #3: Breathing

Rules: Don’t judge yourself. Don’t evaluate.

Even an 8-minute meditation with a focus on breathing is useful. It might be difficult to do initially, but with practice, it gets easier.

There are more forms of breathing exercises, like Coherent Breathing, introduced by Stephen Elliot in the early 2000s, where you have 5 breaths per minute (6 seconds in and 6 seconds out) (https://coherentbreathing.com/)

An example of Coherent Breathing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aErB0r6sgh8

Research and other resources

Coherent Breathing: https://coherentbreathing.com/ 

Neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davison’s Research: https://www.richardjdavidson.com/about

Tergar Meditation Community: https://tergar.org/meditation/

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) exercises by Jon Kabat-Zinn: https://mbsrtraining.com/mindfulness-exercises-by-jon-kabat-zinn/


Thich Nhat Hanh, Miracle of Mindfulness

Yogney Mingyur Rinpoche, The Joy of Living

Lidia Rauramo and Poudel Basanta are the teaching crew of Good Life Engine, a unique routine and time management course that aids in personal growth, while addressing the global trends of wellbeing, life design and self-development.