Meditation is not just for hard core gurus and yogis.
People from vastly different backgrounds have discovered the benefits of stilling the mind and focusing the breath. Even so, images of pretzel-legged, gaunt, serious-faced practitioners springs to my mind when I think about meditation .
Meditation has been shown to not only lower blood pressure, support the immune system and improve work performance, it can also foster a more peaceful life. When you make meditation an daily habit , you can enhance so many aspects of your mental, physical and emotional health and your overall life .
The best part is, it’s completely free and only has positive side effects.
Wow! So if it’s so great, why don’t more of us meditate more often?
I ask myself that question every time I get to the end of yet another day having cared for my family, pets, my home, exercised my body, written articles, kissed my partner, read a book and still didn’t take a measly 10 minutes to sit and meditate. Sometimes it’s guilt about not meditating that stands between me and my often-ignored practice. It looms as an unfinished “task” on my to do list day after day.
Even though I was taught to meditate as a young child and have directly experienced the many benefits of meditation, for me it still gets shoved aside and neglected. I wonder, why is it that we make time to watch a hospital drama or comedy sitcom every week yet can’t manage to give ourselves the nourishing treat of merely sitting and breathing?
One possible reason is the unavoidable image of meditation. It seems like a very serious task where you have to concentrate and focus your mind and breathing. After a long day of work, chores, kids, or whatever fills your time, if you’re like me, you probably just want to “veg” out rather than tune in. Meditation can also be a time when uncomfortable or painful feelings that have been shoved down throughout the day re-surface . This, in and of itself, make the idea of sitting down to meditate unsavory.
The fact is this…
When any of us are sick, depressed, stressed out or are facing set-backs or obstacles, that tv hospital drama won’t truly help us out.
Meditation will. When you practice meditation regularly, it can lessen or even erase the usual difficulties that crop up in your life . While the grief, fears, anxieties or whatever it is you work really hard to ignore do sometimes come up during meditation, this powerful practice can help you unwind and release your knotted emotions leaving you more open to the life you desire.
Here are some tips to get started meditating and then to keep doing it…..
1. Start out simple.
There are many great ways to meditate. You can sit in certain positions, hold your hands specific ways and breathe in particular patterns. Meditation can actually be quite a complex process if you make it one. There’s nothing wrong with chanting specific words, intentions or following visualizations.
But it’s often best to start out simple. Get in a comfortable position in a quiet and private spot, close your eyes or keep them softly open and just breathe. Try not to have any expectations other than to just breathe and focus your attention on your breath.
2. Start out doable.
Some schools of thought recommend that you meditate for at least 30 minutes at a time every day for optimum effect. This might be something you do at a point in your practice, but if you’re like me, fitting another 30 minute activity into an already busy day can feel overwhelming. Figure out what is doable for you. It might be 10 minutes or 5 minutes.
Whatever amount of time you choose to set aside each day, every other day or even once a week, do your best to stick to that agreement with yourself. Don’t worry about whether or not it’s “enough.” Just celebrate that you are regularly caring for yourself in this powerful way.
3. Relax and be easy about it.
It is inevitable that your mind will wander. That’s normal and ok. Gently notice that your mind is wandering and re-direct your attention back to your breath. Repeat this as often as necessary. Know that even very experienced meditators have to bring back their focus time and time again. When your mind starts reminding you to add cereal to the grocery list or wondering what your partner meant by a particular comment , a knowledge the thought and then come back to your breath.
This is not a competition with anyone– not even with yourself– so take it easy and allow relaxation to infuse your mind, body and soul.
As you sit and breathe, open up to the potential happiness and bliss that is more easily available. This can lead to clearer, calmer and more confident decision-making in all areas of your life. So what are you waiting for, let’s get sitting!