We have all heard by now that meditation is part of a healthy lifestyle, and it is becoming more and more popular. Meditation is centered around breathing and paying close attention to the breath, and it can quiet the mind, making you feel peaceful, calm, and happy. Some research even suggests that meditation can help people manage symptoms of anxiety, asthma, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, and the list goes on.
So, why aren’t we doing it? Maybe because it seems too esoteric or “out there” to try. Maybe it just seems too hard or time consuming. But it is a simple practice that could drastically improve the quality of your life on many levels. Meditation can be a quick exercise that can be done when you wake up, while at your desk, before bed, or almost anywhere at any time. You don’t need special equipment, and there are a variety of techniques to fit your lifestyle. So, why not try it?
Here are some easy tips to get started:
• Think about when you will do your practice. Many people choose to meditate first thing in the morning to make sure they can fit it in and have a nice start to their day!
• Find a quiet and comfortable space. You may use a chair, the couch, the floor, or even pillows. As long as you feel that you can be still in a safe and undisturbed environment, it doesn’t matter where you are.
• Check in with yourself as you start. Are you tired, anxious, or bored? How does your body feel? Acknowledge yourself and what you are bringing to the session that day.
• Pay attention to your breath and count “one” as you breathe in and “two” as you breathe out. Repeat to the count of 10 and start again. Don’t change your breathing, just notice it and count.
• As your mind wanders (which it will do) be kind to yourself about it and go back to counting your breaths.
• Don’t worry about clearing your mind or stopping your thoughts, just focus on your breath. However, after about a week of practice, if a feeling such as anger, anxiety, or fear arises during meditation, see what happens if you stay with it instead of suppressing it. This is a safe place to start to understand and know yourself. Then, go back to counting your breath.
• Try this for just 2-3 minutes for a few days, then build up to five, then ten, and so on, until you find a length of time that suits you.
• Try to commit to your practice for at least one month so you can better determine if it helps and whether you enjoy it.
• There are a number of guided meditations, such as signing up for a yoga class or using an app such as Headspace. Have fun exploring them.
• Remember, there is no wrong way to do this as long as you are doing it!