Meditation by definition is a broad variety of seemingly simple yet complex practices aimed at quieting the mind, seeking stillness of thoughts, and furthermore finding God. While there’s a great deal of cultural & religious history associated with the term, one doesn’t have to prescribe to one set of beliefs or another in order to practice. Talk in the media (celebrities sing the praises of their practice), and health community about the benefits associated there still are some simple components to the practice of meditating that make the end result of stillness and rejuvenation all worth the effort.
Sense of calm?
Benefits = clarity of the mind.
Improved concentration & focus, regulated hormones, sleep, & blood pressure, & of course reduced stress & anxiety.
Who wouldn’t want all those things? And yet when you sit down and actually try to give it a shot it can be daunting, your mind starts to wander. It can be challenging to simply turn off your running thoughts & seek stillness-at least for me I know it can be, somehow I always end up planning my weekly grocery list. That's why I ended up stretching, and eventually starting yoga. I was half way to a lesson in calisthenics when it dawned on me, I should just take a yoga class.
There’s actually several different forms of meditation, so finding out what is right for you is probably the real first step here on the path to developing a practice.
Walking, talking, eating, or sitting meditation, which appeals most to you? All of these activities can be practiced with mindfulness and positive intention. Try a few different things to see figure out what is best for you.
Here are some easy tips to get started if you haven’t yet:
1. Silence the phone/cell & all alerts/chimes.
2. Find a quiet place to sit. You don’t have to sit in a “lotus” position, but try to sit cross legged on the floor or on a pillow where you’ll be comfortable for at least 10-15 mins. Posture is important, so try to be consciously upright with lower back support if needed.
3. Focus. Try your best to not focus on any one thing, person, task or issue at hand. Let your mind simply be, without the constant flow of thought. THIS is the art of meditation.
4. Breathe. Breath is so important during your practice. There’s no need to breathe deep and long each inhale or exhale. Maybe start with a few deep breaths to oxygenate your body and mind and then just breathe calmly.
5. Stillness. It sounds simple however to sit still and not fidget or fuss is very important in the meditation practice. It really can mean the difference between gaining all the benefits and absolutely zero.
Some of the best advice I ever have heard about the art of meditating is that it’s important to not stress out as you begin your practice. It’s not going to be perfect. Know that you probably won’t get it all right but the parts that you do, like the stillness, the quiet, the breath & posture etc. are all things that work for you each time. We may not be able to control everything in our lives, but having a good harness on something small like a meditation practice can actually end up paying us back pretty generously when stressful times come.
It’s always good to keep practicing, you never know who or what you might inspire as you grow!