Are you struggling with stress? Do you wish you had time to slow down and relax?
A few years ago, I was in the same boat: overwhelmed, worried, concerned that I didn’t have enough time to just sit.
That’s when I started meditating.
You don’t need a lot of time to start meditating; you don’t even need to do it every day. Begin a meditation practice, and you might be surprised at the benefits.
Here’s why you should start meditating.
Meditation seems like it’s some feel-good fluff. And there are some “masters” and “gurus” out there that peddle plenty of feel-good fluff as part of their meditation programs.
I’m not into all that. I like meditation because it comes with real benefits for your body and mind.
First of all, you can lower your stress levels, which in turn impacts other areas of your life, particularly your heart. Studies indicate that meditation might help lower your blood pressure and reduce your likelihood of stroke and heart attack.
Your emotional and mental health can be positively impacted as well. Meditation can calm you, allowing you to deal with unexpected events in a more positive manner — and improve your mood, which helps you in your interactions with your partner, friends, and children.
Meditation can even change your brain structure in beneficial ways. It might even help stave off the impacts of aging on the brain. Enhanced cognition and attention can help you boost your productivity and improve your ability to focus on your goals.
A few weeks ago, I got out of the practice of meditating. I felt too busy. One day skipped turned into another day skipped. I didn’t even realize I was skipping until Harlan brought up my stress levels, associated with my recent illness. “Are you meditating?”
After honestly considering his question, I discovered that I needed to start meditating again. So I picked up my practice. Here’s how I got back into it — and how you can start your own meditation practice:
Start with short periods of time.
When we think of meditation, we picture someone sitting cross-legged for hours at a time, humming. That’s not practical. No one is going to just carve out an hour of the day out of nowhere.
Instead, start meditating for much shorter periods of time. I like a five-minute meditation for anytime I feel like I’m flagging during the day. There’s nothing wrong with meditating for five minutes each day. You could even break it out into three five-minute sessions. Other people I know start the day with a five-minute meditation and then re-focus throughout the day with a one- or two-minute meditation every couple of hours.
If you want to increase the amount of meditating you do each day, do so gradually.
I like to start the day with a moving meditation while I run through the yoga poses that make up the sun salutation. I usually set aside 20 minutes for meditation partway through the day, and then I use a guided meditation to help me fall asleep at night.
Figure out what works for you, and stick with that. The important thing is to get started — no matter how much time you spend meditating each day.
Use guided meditation to stay focused.
I get distracted by my thoughts all the time. So, even though I’ve been meditating for years, I still use guided meditations. You can find guided meditations for lengths of time ranging from five minutes to two or three hours.
I’ve tried all sorts of things: finger meditating, meditation balls, focusing on my breath, using mantras. None of it keeps me focused like a guided meditation. Don’t feel like you have to be able to sit there on your own and become one with the universe to be successful. Swallow your pride and make use of YouTube or a meditation app on your phone to find guided help.
Adopt any position you want.
My favorite position for meditation? Corpse.
Really, it’s just lying down. And I like it. When I’m meditating during the day, I lay on my back, palms facing up. At bedtime, I just lay on my side. It’s about comfort.
You can meditate sitting on a chair, standing up, or laying down. Figure out what’s most comfortable for you, and just go for it. There’s no one “right” way to meditate.Figure out what's most comfortable for you, and just go for it. There's no one "right" way to meditate.Click To Tweet
Meditate while moving.
Did you know you can meditate while moving? There are walking meditations. Sometimes I turn my lap swimming into a swimming meditation. I start my morning by meditating while doing yoga.
You can enter a mindful state while doing any number of activities, from coloring to playing music (both of which come with a bevy of benefits). Don’t assume you have to shut yourself away in a room for effective meditation.
Mindfulness is key.
Effective meditation is all about mindfulness. The idea is to connect to the present, and let thoughts and worries about the past or the future go. Whatever you need to do in order to achieve that state of mind is totally acceptable.
And, as with all things, it takes practice. It can be challenging at first, but as you begin to see the results of your meditation efforts, you’ll be hooked, and likely look for ways to take your practice to the next level.
Are you starting meditation? How do you make time? What are your best tips for effective meditation?