On the same wavelength as last week, meditation is a broadly used tool to help all things from stress to performance goals. This year especially, meditation has become the talk of the world. Similar to yoga, meditation has bundles of information on it and can be overwhelming for the beginner meditator. The most common question being: What am I supposed to do? While there are hundreds of ways to practice (traditional to not so traditional), I’m here to show you the basics of incorporating meditation into your everyday life in a less intimidating and more approachable way. If sitting cross legged an hour each day isn’t your cup of tea; this one’s for you.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is essentially taking time to slow down, tune in, and become aware of the present moment. It gives your body and mind a break from the constant “doing” of everyday life. Simply taking a few moments a day to pause, reflect, and be in the moment could shift your life in a more positive direction. Now, there are A LOT of different ways to incorporate meditation into your life. Many new meditators believe that they have to sit crossed legged, candle lit, and have no thoughts enter their brain. How intimidating does that sound? But the reality is, thoughts come and go. It’s impossible to tell your brain to stop producing stories. What regular meditation starts to inhibit is this outlet of letting go. Letting go of those stories circling in your head; the constant chatter that some of us may have. Now this can be done through various mediation techniques; the most beginner friendly being mindfulness meditation. We will dive deeper into this technique later.
Why should we take five to ten minutes out of our busy lives to meditate? The research is out there and it all links back to the fact that taking those five minutes a day to be mindful, feel your breath, and feel your body can significantly impact the way you navigate your life. Meditation is a tool to help you investigate your emotions. It makes you become familiar with your inner voice and learn from it. Instead of yelling at someone for cutting you off driving or getting impatient waiting in line; a daily meditation practice will seep its way into your everyday actions. You’ll be smiling at the person who cut you off (or a little less mad) and you’ll feel calmer when the line is refusing to move forward. And that’s the beauty of mindfulness. It’s the effects it has off the cushion (or wherever you’re practicing). Most importantly, you don’t need to go on a ten day silent meditation retreat to reap the benefits. Starting with even 2 minutes a day, whether you’re in your car, at work, or yes sitting on a cushion will provide you with everything mentioned above. The main question now is: How do I do it?
How to Start a Meditation Practice?
First and foremost, don’t overthink meditation. There is no right or wrong. In fact, it’s solely up to what works for you. You want your practice to be sustainable, so keep that in mind when going through the techniques listed below.
As mentioned above, the technique of mindfulness meditation is great for beginners. It’s a perfect stepping stone into the practice of mindful living. Mindfulness meditation originates from the early teachings of the Buddha and has exploded in the western world. Popularity has spiked so much due to the main concept of this practice: Non-judgment. While many believe that they shouldn’t have any thoughts running through their brain; mindfulness meditation welcomes those thoughts in an accepting way. Instead of forcing the busyness away, you become aware of how it’s making you and your body feel. The concentration is typically on the breath and the breath is used to keep coming back to your practice (it’s okay if you get distracted!). Mindfulness meditation can be done sitting or laying down for a certain duration of time. In that case, I recommend using a meditation app if you’re a beginner (Insight timer, Calm, and Headspace are all good) or just setting a timer on your phone. Setting a timer decreases the stress of worrying about what time it is and how much time has passed by (especially if you’re busy). I recommend starting with five minutes and going up from there. During the meditation, don’t over complicate it. Focus on the movement of the breath through your body and welcome any thoughts that float through. Acknowledge the stories, but then gently return back to your breath. Keep repeating that until your timer is done! Add a journaling practice to your meditation and write down how each practice feels for some extra juiciness. Mindfulness meditation can also be done walking and eating!
2. Mantra Meditation:
A Mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated over and over again during meditation. This technique is great for individuals who have a hard time concentrating. Traditionally, Mantras are Sanskrit words and phrases, but your mantra can be anything that resonates with you. It can be said out loud or in your head during your practice. Some powerful examples include: I am enough, I do enough, I have enough, May I happy, May I be healthy, May I live with ease, and a traditional mantra is OM which is a chant for peace. Sit or lay down and repeat your phrase until the timer is up!
3. Mindful Living:
As mentioned, meditation doesn’t have to be done in the most traditional sense. Incorporating mindful living into your daily routine could be a more sustainable option for you. For most individuals these days, taking an hour each day to meditate is difficult. So incorporating it into actions you already do could be the key. Some examples of mindful living are as follows:
Doing a few of these everyday duties with awareness could be your mediation practice. You don’t need to sit down each day in order to reap the benefits (seated meditation is nice though!).
There you have it, meditation can be done anywhere and in any way. Trial and error will be your best friend until you find that one technique that really feels great. Take your time, be kind to yourself, and feel the magic of quieting the mind.
MOA at Sequoia Wellness Collective, RYT 500hr