There are many types of meditation that all serve the same purpose. Meditation is practiced to find inner peace. Mindfulness meditation is the most accessible form of meditation. Great news: if you’re reading this right now, you are also breathing. If you can breathe, you can meditate! Even better news…meditating is FREE. I hope you all love free stuff as much as I do.
Why meditate? Well…why NOT! Here are some benefits of meditation:
- Aligns us in the present moment
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Helps process emotions
- Cultivates creativity and positivity
- Boosts focus
- Lowers blood pressure
- Builds self knowledge
- Eases pain and inflammation
- Cleanses the mind of negative thoughts
What are the disadvantages to meditation? There are none. I promise!
Mindfulness meditation can be incorporated into your everyday life, however, if you are new to meditation, here are some basic steps to begin practicing.
Find a quiet place to sit comfortably. Make sure you are not surrounded by any distractions. Put your phone on silent or do not disturb. Sometimes hearing that little buzz can make you anxious or interrupt your focus.
You can sit cross-legged on the floor, or you can sit in a chair if it’s more comfortable for your back. If you are sitting on the floor, be sure to have good posture. You can rest your hands in your lap.
Gently close your eyes. Relax any tension in the body. We often hold tension in the shoulders and in the face.
Breathe in and out through your nose. Notice if your natural breath is shallow or deep. Listen to the rhythm of the breath, it might sound like the ocean. As you exhale the waves crash…as you inhale…the tide pulls in. Stay mindful of this breath. If you have trouble staying focused, you can count as you breathe. (Inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3, exhale 4…etc.) As you stay conscious of this breath, remain aware of your body and your surroundings. When you breathe consciously, you live in the present moment. When you live in the present, you let go of all your worries and thoughts.
Constant thinking is normal. We can compare the act of thinking to the heart beating. We do not have to control the heart to make it beat – it just does it on its own. We do not control the thoughts that come through our head – they just happen. However, we can control our response to these thoughts. Attaching to thoughts leads to more thinking, but letting the thoughts float away without judgement can lead to stillness. Whenever you catch yourself deep in thought, observe the thought without identifying with it and return to conscious breathing. Inhale, exhale.
Most importantly, be patient with yourself. Meditating is easier said than done. As with anything, meditation becomes easier with practice. It is best to meditate at the same time everyday, for the same amount of time. Meditation can be done at anytime of day, but doing it first thing in the morning can improve your entire day.
Don't give up if you can't stay focused on your first try. Start small. If it is your first time meditating, it will be very difficult for you to meditate for twenty minutes straight. Begin with 5 minutes a day, work your way up to 10 or 15 minutes. Sometimes it's nice to set a timer so you don't have to worry about checking the clock mid-meditation.
Eventually, you may be able to feel the space between you and your thoughts. Some call this inner space. Finding your inner space allows you to have the freedom to choose how you respond to your thoughts. Accessing inner space gives us the opportunity to stay conscious.
- Burn incense or candles, diffuse essential oils
- Sip hot tea before meditating to relax the body
- Listen to calming music without words if you cannot access a quiet space. (I like to meditate to Steven Halpern’s Om Zone or listen to recorded nature sounds like the ocean or rain)
- Meditate outside and immerse yourself in the sounds of nature
- Set an intention before meditating. Intentions give power to manifesting your visions. Here are some examples:
- I intend to practice patience
- I intend to create my own happiness
- I intend to have an open mind
- I intend to meditate everyday
Once you get the hang of mindfulness meditation, you can start incorporating it in your everyday life. Following your breath and living in the present can make daily tasks much more pleasant such as doing dishes, driving, folding clothes etc. In addition, mindfulness meditation is a wonderful way to combat anxious thoughts.
Don’t. Forget. To. Breathe.