Most chances are, you’ve been introduced to the idea of meditation at one point or another. It’s often the busiest, most stressed out people who need it the most that claim they “don’t have time to meditate.” Misconception #1. You DO have time. The question is, WHY would you make time to simply SIT?
Meditation has been researched for some time, and scientists are continuing to discover the multitude of benefits it has to offer. As we can imagine, meditation helps us to feel more calm, more centered, and more able to deal with LIFE as it comes flying at us. One school in Baltimore has even replaced detention with meditation, and has seen great results such as less kids receiving suspension and further disciplinary action.
If you feel stressed, confused, or like life is not really “flowing” for you in the way it could be, it could be time to deepen your connection to yourself, and to your spirit. Everyone, no matter who you are and what you do, has a quiet center that is waiting to be accessed. Everyone has a deeper awareness that is waiting to be realized. Taking the time to sit, breathe, and connect to the breath can help you to feel clearer, calmer, more in control. It can help you to feel powerfully connect to earth, like you belong here, like you are a vital part of a moving whole. Meditating can help you to realize your own purpose – but the first step is simply to cultivate that awareness, and to quiet the mind.
Like anything else, meditation takes PRACTICE. This is why most people give up. If you try it once or twice, and can’t sit still, can’t focus, or find your thoughts racing, that is completely normal! You are still capable of meditation. Accept yourself for who you are, what you are feeling, and know that just by ATTEMPTING the practice, you are doing yourself a great service. Keep trying, and one day you will drop into a sweet state of calm and bliss – even if it’s only for a few moments, it’s worth it.
There are many different ways to meditate, but no matter what you choose to practice, here are some tips that I find helpful to make your meditation practice stick:
1) Schedule your meditation, and set a timer while you practice. I like to use the app “meditation timer” when I meditate because I like the sound of the bells. It will give you time to get settled, then ring a chime. You can also choose to have a bell go off in the middle of your meditation, and then one at the end. 5-10 minutes is all you need to get started. Before lunch? On a break between calls? Just like anything else, having it in your schedule will help ensure you do it – especially if it’s the same time each day! You can also stay consistent by using a “habit tracker” (like a sticker chart), or an app that tracks your meditations for you, like “Calm” or “headspace”.
Challenge yourself! Can you meditate every day in a row for a week?? First thing in the morning is always a good time, or just after your morning exercise. Schedule it in, and find success with creating this important habit.
2) Find a comfortable way to sit. This is important because you don’t want too many distractions from your body. If on the floor, it can be helpful to sit on a cushion or a pillow. Sit on as many cushions or blankets as you need so that your hips are over your knees – if your knees are hunched up around you and your lower back is rounded, this will not be comfortable or safe. You can also sit against a wall if you need to.
If you choose to sit on a chair, sit up straight with both feet on the floor, and your hands resting on your thighs. I like to recommend sitting instead of laying down because it helps keep you from drifting off and falling asleep. It also keeps your chakras aligned over the earth, making that connection from earth to sky. Do your best to keep your head and shoulders over your hips, and let your shoulders release away from your ears and down your back.
3) Use a mantra. This helps the monkey mind by giving it something concrete to focus on, along with the breath. Become aware of the breath, and then inhale, “I am inhaling”, exhale, “I am exhaling” “inhale, exhale”. and notice the cool air coming into your nose and the warmed arm coming out. Bring this to the center of your attention and stay with it, immediately you are brought to the peace of the present moment. Another mantra I’ve been taught to use is “So Hum” – “so” in the inhale and “hum” on the exhale. So Hum translates to “I am that.” Now, simply thinking these syllables relaxes me. What a tool!
4) Don’t beat yourself up during meditation. Consider honing your awareness and patience as part of the meditation practice! Frustration and thoughts of “why am I doing this? I suck at this.” will probably come up. Here’s what to do: If you are practicing meditation, and then you realize that your thoughts are racing, just say, “OK, I see you thoughts, thank you.” And return to your mantra. If doesn’t matter how many times you need to do this – the more you practice, the easier it gets. Some days it’s just harder to stay focused, but stay with the challenge. As soon as you acknowledge the thinking mind, you can return to your mantra and let it go.
5) Use Guided Meditations. You can easily find these on Youtube, or on apps like Headspace or Calm. This will take some of the pressure off of staying focused, because you have a voice guiding you and telling you what to do. One guided meditation I like is this one on compassion. Guided meditations are a great way to get started, and using an app can be really helpful for a beginner! Personally, I like to sit and guide my own meditation, which is a conversation for another time.
Right now, this is an important time in our history to get more people working on their inner space, working on their own mindfulness, and spreading love. There’s a lot of chaos right now – and every single person who can move into their quiet center will help us to support the greater whole. We will help to spread love and light when we need it MOST. If you’ve never meditated before, or you’re interested in starting again, now is the time. The time is always now :) Namaste!
If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you! Don't hesitate to reach out!!