Meditation has become quite trendy these past few years, and it’s for good reason. Yet you don’t have to be a vegan, yoga loving hippie in order to reap the benefits of meditation. The practice of meditation is a beautiful and delicate process that looks different for everyone. In my opinion there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it; just a way that works best for YOU.
So what is meditation?
If we want to get technical meditation is the act of meditating. Meditating is thinking deeply and focusing one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation. A long definition for something that requires little or no words. A meditation practice will look different for everyone; the options are limitless. Some common forms of meditation include prayer, yoga, focused breathing, mantra chanting, or guided meditation.
Over the past three years I have focused on creating a daily meditation practice. I have tried everything from guided meditations to sitting it complete silence. I have chanted mantras and listened to my breath. I’ve done a five minute meditation and also taken an hour long course that was so emotionally moving it brought me to tears. If there is a type of meditation out there, chances are I’ve tried it. And while there may be a multitude of ways to meditate, one thing remains the same. Each meditation practice I’ve tried has helped me relieve stress and channel a calmer more authentic version of my true self.
Benefits of meditation:
Meditation can reduce stress, help you focus, practices self-awareness, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and can make you happier! It really just gives you a plethora of positive vibes and emotions. In times of high stress and anxiety I turn to meditation. I set a timer, close my eyes, and focus on my breath. I tune out the rest of the world and turn my attention to the rhythmic sound of my breath. Without fail by the time my timer goes off, I am calmer, my heart beat has slowed down, and I can feel the anxiety melting away. Now you may be thinking “this all sounds great but where do I start?”.
Tips for starting a daily meditation practice:
1. Start small: Don’t try and go from never meditating to trying to meditate for 60 minutes. You’ll likely get frustrated and unfortunately end up with a negative view of meditation all together. I suggest you first try and meditate for five minutes.
2. Try a guided meditation: When you first begin meditating it can seem difficult or daunting to focus on your breath or a specific phrase. Guided meditations help you focus on a specific topic so you’re less likely to be thinking about your ‘to-do’ list you need to start. YouTube is full of guided meditations ranging from five minutes to multiple hours. There are also apps that offer guided meditations (the two I have used are Calm & Headspace).
3. Try different types of meditation: Sitting in silence and focusing on my breath or a mantra has become my preferred way to meditate. But that doesn’t mean it is what will work best for you. Trying different types will allow you to find a method that works best for you. The more you enjoy it the more likely you are to stick with it.
4. Find what feels good: Traditionally meditation is performed after a yoga practice in a cross-legged seated position with you back straight (like you’re against a wall). This position has NEVER felt right for me. Instead I lay on my back with my arms by my side and my legs out long. I encourage you to play around with different positions and find what feels good.
5. Be patient: Meditation is a practice, it gets easier over time. It is important to be patient with yourself and take the time for your practice to grow. When I first started meditating I felt like every ten seconds my mind was drifting off and I would lose focus. Now I comfortably meditate each morning and I find I actually look forward to it.
Meditation is a beautiful thing with so an immense amount cultural and spiritual history. It allows you to tune out the outside world and tune into your soul. By simply focusing on the breath one discovers how truly magical our breath is. If you don’t have time to meditate for five minutes a day…that’s a sign that you NEED to meditate. Taking time to incorporate meditation is taking time for self-care. We all perform at our best when we take time for ourselves first. Meditation has the ability to calm you in times of stress, guide you in times of confusion, and ground you in times of weakness.
Spirituality shouldn’t be something we are embarrassed about, instead it should be something we celebrate and feel comfortable talking about with others. So whether you pray, chant, breath, or sit in silence, I hope that your practice is something that empowers and inspires you each and every day.