You can’t get into the idea of sitting cross-legged on a pillow surrounded by candles and crystals and chanting OM? It’s not your thing? That’s ok. It’s not for most of us. Then why is meditation getting so much air time?
Could you into the idea of feeling mentally and physically great more often? Can you see yourself getting into a new “thing” if it could boost your mood, enhance your relationships, clear away negative thoughts, improve your memory, decrease premenopausal and menopausal symptoms, improve performance of mental and physical tasks, and help you sleep? (Just to name a few).
These are just a small handful of the benefits that are research-proven and why the practice of meditation is gaining momentum in the health and wellness scene right now. It’s all about the benefits.
A wonderful article that lists all the benefits for adults and children, in life, in the workplace, and at school can be found at http://liveanddare.com/benefits-of-meditation/#2_Mind_Performance.
How long does it really take?
If you’re sold on the benefits but don’t have 20 mins twice a day to meditate, that’s ok, too. Research shows that you can experience benefits in as little as 5 minutes a day. And you can do it anywhere. Ideally, you would do it alone in a quiet place where you can sit or lie down comfortably, distraction-free. But that’s not always realistic.
I’ve actually meditated several times in parking lots. I prefer to as soon as I wake up, but if that isn’t feasible, I try to squeeze in 5-10 minutes before I run into the grocery store or before I leave the gym. I just tell myself that I’ll need to be extra productive to make up the time. Because I feel more focused afterwards, this is easy.
If you’re open to trying it out, but don’t know how to do it, don’t worry. There’s no right or wrong way to meditate. And there are incredible resources available to help you.
I’ll share how I got started. But before I do, I want to share a little story. For several years, I struggled with what I like to call my emotional fitness. I’m very blessed. I’m happily married, love my house, and totally in love with my three healthy children. But for a long time, I felt a void in my heart. I let my Mommy responsibilities trump my desire to create a platform for sharing my passion for all things healthy with the world. Over time, I found myself feeling disconnected from my true self.
About three years ago, we spent a weekend at a spa resort. I attended a guided meditation with my Mom. Neither of us had ever meditated. It was winter and the furnace had shut off the night before. We sat on hard metal chairs in a freezing cold room. By the end, I had gotten lost in the visualization and forgot how miserably uncomfortable I felt in the beginning. The rest of that day and the next day, I felt more of a sense of peace than I had felt in a long time. I wasn’t sold on the idea that it was the meditation that made me feel that way. But I wanted to feel that way again, so I was willing to experiment at home.
It’s been three years now, and I’m still blown away by the difference I feel in my mood when I make time to meditate. My mind feels clear and I’m more able to calm myself in the midst of the noise, wrestling, and chaos that comes with raising three boys that still pushes my buttons. I’ve also been able to disassociate from the limiting thoughts that were the source of my inability to feel more fulfilled. I still don’t meditate as much as I should, but I’m committed to the practice and love feeling the benefits.
How do I start?
I offer you three different options to try below. Experiment to see what feels best for you. Keep in mind that your mind will wander. It’s completely normal. Sometimes you may even get lost in thought for awhile. That’s ok, too. When you realize that you’ve started thinking, simply start again. That’s part of the process. The more often you meditate, the more aware you’ll become of your thoughts and the easier and more natural it will feel to just become aware that you’re thinking and begin again.
The practice of becoming of aware of your thoughts, letting them be, and then clearing your mind again is called mindfulness. If you stick with it, you’ll find this skill carry over to your everyday life. It’s what will allow you to start disassociating yourself from your emotions, and empower you to begin consciously responding, rather than passively, or unconsciously reacting, to your emotions.
This piece has been life-changing for me. I would lose a whole day to frustration or anger when I’d get emotionally triggered. I still feel those same emotions, but now I can mentally detach myself from them. I say to myself, “These are emotions are just energy. You can choose to let them go. You can maintain control, instead of them taking control of you.” Life-changing.
Three techniques to try.
#1: Sit or lie down. Close your eyes. Take relaxing deep inhales and exhales. Simply focus on the sound of your breath. Try to free yourself of thought. When you notice thoughts arise, notice them. And then refocus on your breath. Do this for 3-5 mins.
#2: If you are like me, listening to some music can help relax you and set the tone. I own meditation CD’s, but I find it easier to set my phone to vibrate and turn on Calm Meditation Radio on Pandora. But my favorite background music is Wayne Dyer’s, “I Am that I Am” meditation on YouTube. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A96OI4b8sFY. Follow step #1, allow the music to enhance your experience.
#3: If you just can’t relax on your own, a guided meditation may be just the thing to help. I love guided meditations. I fluctuate between all three of these options. On YouTube, you can find everything from morning meditations, to meditations for productivity, healing, or manifesting. Here are links to a few short ones that I listened to when I began.
Let me know about your past or new experiences with meditation. Have you meditated before? Can you share your experience? If you never have, will you give it a try? Leave your comments below.
If you have questions or need support, email me at email@example.com.