In a world where we are constantly bombarded by sounds, images, and distractions, meditation is making a comeback as a way to slow down and process all that stimuli.
Whether one's tried it or not, just about everyone has an opinion about meditation.
Most people I talk with say it's boring, they fall asleep when they try to meditate, they don't make the time for it, it's too "woo-woo" for them, and//or they don't know how to do it "right."
I'm happy to address all these points and more.
We've all heard the benefits of meditation: stress reduction, better sleep, mood stabilization, clearer thinking & problem solving, lowered blood pressure, better pain management, and a host of others.
The downside is you'll need to give up a few minutes of your day. You will need to sit still in a quiet environment free of outside stimuli. You'll need to think. You'll need to breathe deeply. Not too difficult... right?
Why not give it a try!
Here are my best tips for beginning a meditation practice.
*Find a quiet spot in your home, workplace, a park, or other secluded place where you're free from distractions. You might have to get creative with this if you have a busy household. I know someone who sits in her closet with noise-canceling headphones on, just to get a few moments of quiet. Whatever peace you can carve out is good enough.
*Sit wherever and however is comfortable for you. (Just don't lie down, you'll fall asleep!) A couch, a chair, a pillow on the floor-- all are great options. You do NOT have to sit in the lotus position! And don't worry about your hands. Just place them in a comfortable place on your knees, lap, etc.
*Some people close their eyes while they meditate while others keep their eyes open and gaze at a photograph, word, symbol, or even blank wall. This can change from session to session. There are lots of right ways to do this. Again, whatever is comfortable.
*Don't worry about how to breathe. It doesn't really matter--JUST BREATHE. Options include breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth; in through the nose and out through the nose; in through the mouth and out through the mouth; and any other way you want. Here's a link to Box Breathing, a method I'm a big fan of.
*Some people find that repeating a word or phrase over and over again helps them focus. Something like, "I am strong," or "I can do this," while processing the day's events can be beneficial. I'm not talking about chanting, although if you want to do that, go for it! Sitting for a few minutes peacefully repeating a personal mantra is the easiest way to go about meditation for many people.
*Use an app that guides you (if you're at a loss of what to do or want to mix things up). Apps are a fantastic way to start, because all you do is sit back and follow along with the words, music, or drums.There are many great apps out there-- my personal favorites are Insight Timer, Headspace, and Secular Buddhism (a podcast with two meditation tracks between #32 and #33).
*Acknowledge thoughts as they pop into your mind. Don't make them wrong or bad. Notice them, breathe through them, and let them pass. Meditation is no so much about clearing your mind as it is allowing the thinking to take place.
*Meditation can be spiritual or not. It can be whatever you want it to be. You need to be comfortable with how and why it happens. You do what's safest and best for you.
*You can play music, but it's best to keep it instrumental. Lyrics can be distracting. Movie soundtracks, drumming, classical music, new age music-- all are great options.
However you go about it, I hope you give meditation a try.
Shoot for five minutes, two times a week. As you get more comfortable with it maybe go for three or four times a week for five minutes each. Or keep the twice a week and go for a longer period of time.
Remember, something is always better than nothing.
Always Yours in Health,