There are so many articles out there about how meditation lowers high blood pressure, helps reduce anxiety, and brings peace of mind, among any other things – this is all well and good, but with all of this attention on meditation, it quickly turns into another ‘should’ that needs to be done and done in the ‘right’ way. For this reason, I initially felt turned off by all of it, but in reality, I just needed to take a minute and see how I could make it work for me in my own way. Here are some things that have helped me to create my own meditation practice. Do you have any tips/tricks you use that help – I would love to hear them!
Create a space – At first, I always imagined a meditation space as this elaborate space with an altar and pillows and candles everywhere – it does not have to be this! It is just a place you can be without interruption and that you can sit comfortably. It could be your bed, couch, even your bathroom if that is the only place you know you will not be bothered!
Take just 5 minutes – It could be the five minutes before you even get out of bed, five minutes before getting ready to head out to dinner, or the five minutes before you climb into bed at night. It doesn’t have to be a long and involved process, just where it fits in your day with whatever amount of time you have. Trying to create the time for meditation should not be stressful, work up from sitting for just five minutes and you would be surprised that you will eventually want more time to sit.
Breathe – This may be too obvious, but it is a great place to start with a meditation practice – just simply focusing on your breath. This may mean for you feeling it come in and out of your nose, or you could try counting the breath, by counting the breath in, holding the breath for half that number and then exhaling for the full count once again. By focusing on the breath, you have something to come back to if your mind wanders (and it will!)
There’s an app for that – If it feels daunting to try to meditate in silence, download one of the many apps that are there to help guide meditations. The Meditation Oasis has simple themed meditation episodes that vary in length, which makes it easy to fit on even if you have less than 10 minutes to spare. The Calm App has episodes as well, but for free you can have access to ambient sounds that help relax your mind. And though it is not an app, Oprah has a 21 day guided meditation program that really helped me stay accountable – because let’s be honest, I don’t want to let down Oprah!
Acknowledge your thoughts – When I first sit down to meditate, my mind is still thinking of what is next, what is on my to-do list, what I am going to eat for dinner, I’m sure you can relate. This is normal, and this is why we practice meditation. Your mind is going to wander, but what the practice is about is not letting yourself wander off with these thoughts. So don’t be frustrated that you can’t turn your thoughts off instantly – if you could, you would be hanging out with the Dalai Lama and not reading this article!