As many of you know, meditation is a really important part of my life and I’ve had a consistent daily practice for many years. My boyfriend calls it my “diva time” because he knows not to talk to me/be around me/acknowledge my existence when I’m meditating. I wake up 30 minutes before he does and before I have to get ready for yoga and completely zen out. When I don’t do this I’m just a wacko. You know those days where you’re so touchy that someone looks at you wrong and you’re like “WHAT?!???” That’s me without meditation. It transforms my mind, balances me, relaxes me, and keeps me be in the moment. It has helped me develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm view of the true nature of things in my life. I savor my meditation practice because it is a way for me to step out of myself and turn everything off. So what exactly is this magical meditation and how do you do it?
Meditation is thoughtless awareness. You don’t “do” meditation, you enter a state of meditation. To meditate is NOT to sit quietly and think, concentrate, do exercises, or put forth mental effort – it’s not work. Rather it’s a state of super deep inner peace that naturally happens when the mind is calm and quiet. When you meditate, your mind is free of thoughts and scattered patterns. You are in a state of consciousness that allows you to let go and be free of the activities of the mind.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION:
STRESS RELIEF: Research has shown, meditation may be one of the most effective forms of reducing stress. Neurologists have found those who meditate have less of the stress hormone cortisol compared with nonmeditators.
IMMUNITY: Meditators have shown reduced anxiety and stronger immune function after just 2 months of meditation. Some produced 25 more antibodies in response to the flu virus.
DEPRESSION: Depressed people treated with meditation are 50% less likely to relapse than people without meditation. Meditation helps retrain the mind to derail negative thinking patterns.
WEIGHT: Instead of eating mindlessly or dealing with stress and negative emotions using food, meditators are more mindful of their hunger and why they may be feeling the need to emotionally eat.
ANTI-AGING: Meditation prevents and reverses the effects of aging on the brain. Those who meditation regularly are shown to have thicker pre-frontal cortexes than those who do not. The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for attention and sensory perception.
HOW DO YOU START?
Many people find meditation intimidating because they don’t know much about it or don’t know where to start. When you meditate, you focus your full attention in one area and the rest of whatever is going on in your mind and in your life falls away. The point is not to “try” or “work” at clearing your mind. The point is to shift your attention away from the noise and over to the stillness. Here are 5 things I like to do that may help you begin a meditation practice that works for you:
KEEP IT SHORT. I like to meditate for 30 minutes every single morning when I wake up. I don’t have an hour+ to spend on it and I’m ok with that. I don’t want my meditation to be spent stressing that I’m late for things I need to get started on in the day. Before doing anything, I sit in a comfortable position, close my eyes, and appreciate the quiet stillness of morning before things get going. I center my thoughts on that stillness and let them permeate my whole body. This gets me to a place of deep calm that I try to carry with me and touch back in with throughout the day when things get hectic or my mind drifts to the negative.
LET YOUR THOUGHTS DRIFT AWAY. When my mind starts firing up with thoughts of what I need to do that day, what’s bothering me, what I should eat for breakfast, my workout, etc. I pretend those thoughts are monkey bars that I am swinging on and I simply leave that bar and swing forward. I don’t let myself hang on those thoughts. When beginning a meditation practice, you WILL have all sorts of thoughts come up and that’s 100% normal and ok. The key is letting them pass and not take over your mind.
USE A SOUND OR MANTRA. If you have trouble focusing your attention on stillness without something more specific to focus on, use a phrase or sound that you repeat to yourself and give purpose to your focus. I like to think of something I need that day like “awareness “, “gratitude”, or “patience” and I repeat that word to myself. When I focus on that word and that word only, my mind does not have the capacity to wander.
BREATHE. This is one of my favorite meditation tips because it is a big part of practicing yoga, which is a moving meditation. Breathing deeply and focusing on that breath is a great way to let everything else in your mind drift away. I like to follow my breath with my mind in through my nose, down the back of my throat, into my lungs and belly, and exhaling back up and feel each step in my body.
RELAX YOUR MUSCLES. A great way to allow your meditation permeate your body is by starting at your toes and relaxing each muscle all the way up through your body one at a time. To do this, focus on your toes and fully relax them, then the balls of your feet and fully relax them, then the arches, the heels, the ankles, the calves, and so on until you reach the crown of your head. By the end, you will have relaxed every muscle in your body while focusing your attention on that relaxation and nothing else. When you open your eyes, you will feel incredible.
A meditation practice is an extremely valuable tool in quieting the mind of internal chatter, reducing anxiety, increasing concentration, and promoting general feelings of well being. I highly recommend giving it a try, even if you only have 5 minutes. I strongly believe everyone can benefit from stepping outside of their mind for a bit and allowing inner peace to cultivate. We are so overstimulated in this day and age with constant connectivity – iPhones, e-mails, Instagram, TV, videos, etc. etc. that it’s really hard to remove yourself from the chaotic pace of living. By meditating, you can flush all of that out and be still. As time goes on, you begin to carry that stillness into the rest of your life and feel more peaceful in the midst of the chaos and better equipped to handle whatever life throws your way.
Do you any of you guys meditate and how has it helped you? If you have any questions leave them below!