I’m a type-A kinda gal. I’ve got a lot going on and I’m always trying to get one more thing done. Literally for the last three years my New Year’s resolution has been to meditate more because I know I need it. But it’s so easy to push it aside and, frankly, I feel a little weird doing it in front of my family even though I know they totally don’t care.
So, here’s a little guide for meditation. There are different types. Find one that appeals to you, be open-minded, and give it a few go ’rounds before you try something else. Meditation is definitely a learned skill.
Sit quietly and comfortably focus on your breath. I learned a trick where you simply count to 41 and you’re done. But you might want to just sit and breathe. Pay attention to the inhale and the exhale. Let the stray thoughts drift in and out and when you realize you’re distracted, come back to your breath. If you just do it for five minutes the first time that’s okay. Gradually try to work up to 20.
This is a deeper variation of the above. Instead of letting the thoughts drift through your mind, examine them. Notice your surroundings and how you feel too. Is your back a little sore? Think about what might be making it uncomfortable. Were you thinking about an incident at work? Examine it and see what you glean from it. This can be a great way to let go of negative emotions and to solve problems too. Try to direct any negativity in a positive direction. When you feel lost or stuck, come back to your breath to anchor you. Try for five minutes and then work up to 20.
You can add another element to meditation by adding movement. Walking is the usual way. The idea is to be very aware of what your body is doing. Think about how the foot rolls from heel to toe; think about how your leg swings forward. You can do this with other forms of movement too. I know someone who meditates when she does her dishes after dinner. I have done it quite successfully on a Spin bike, flowing into the zone of my body and mind humming along together.
By focusing and accepting the noises around you, there’s no need to expend energy to shut them out. Use your meditation as an opportunity to center yourself by listening and accepting the sounds you hear. Think of it as life’s great symphony and feel the tones wash over you. You’ll be focused on the flow of life and not your inner to-do list which can be an amazing break from your usual mental activities.
Pick a word or phrase that resonates with you. It might be a favorite that you use over and over again or it might be an ever-changing word depending on where your thoughts are that day. You can use an elaborate chant (there are many out there; go on YouTube for some ideas) or a word as simple as peace, one, or om. Some people will use beads to count their mantras, traditionally 108 times. But you can also just say the phrase until you feel done, especially when you’re starting a practice. If you can do five minutes in the beginning, you’re doing great.
Remember this is a practice. The idea isn’t to be perfect, it’s just to find some peace and maybe some clarity too. There are a myriad of ways that meditation helps us, from stress release to lowering blood pressure to making us more creative. Some of the top CEOs meditate regularly and lots of just regular folk too.
So give it a try. Thanks to Natural Health magazine for inspiring this post. (I would have linked to the article but it wasn’t online!) If you’d like even more tips for healthy living, please consider joining my mailing list. It’s over on the right hand column, right at the top.
Here are some other ways to chill out if meditation just doesn’t seem like your thing.