And, as with other life hacks, once you start doing it you’re immediately struck with the question: WHY THE HELL WASN’T I DOING THIS BEFORE?
I’m a relative newbie, but now I can’t imagine living without the influence of meditation on my life. It’s eased my anxiety, helped me relax, led to better sleep and contributed to minimizing my brain’s (many) bad habits. Stress kills — this we know. And meditation is the kryptonite to stress’ beefy Superman.
But, when I start off on my epic tangents about how fantastic it is, I’m generally met with one of the following responses:
1. “Oh I don’t have time to meditate.”
FALSE. Benefits can be reaped from just a few minutes a day. Cut some Facebook stalking out of your schedule and you’ll be good to go.
2. “I can’t do it because I can never stop my mind from racing.”
Well, that’s kind of the point of meditation … TEACHING yourself to quiet your mind. And like any muscle-building activity, it takes time, commitment and practice.
3. “I don’t know how.”
Deep down, everyone knows how, we just overcomplicate matters. I’ll elaborate below.
4. “That’s a little too new-agey-kumbaya-ish-touchy-feely for me.”
Perhaps so, but if someone told you to take a pill that would improve your energy levels, reduce stress and anxiety, help with addiction, ease depression, reduce blood pressure, assist in pain response, lower stress hormone levels and change your brain for the better, you’d probs take it. So why wouldn’t you sit still for a few minutes a day instead and give meditation a go? No prescription, no insurance, no wait at the dreaded Walgreens required.
We’ve covered the why. As far as the how, it’s actually an unbelievably easy concept. Meditation can come in countless incarnations, and it’s up to you to choose one that resonates. All meditation requires is focusing your consciousness in order to quiet your eternally-shrieking, ego-driven, super-stressed mind. You can do it anytime, anywhere. It doesn’t require sitting cross legged, wearing a robe or hours of practice.
Like I said, I’m no expert, but I can offer a few tips based on my experience. Hopefully that’ll help some of you take the plunge!
1. Pick something to focus on.
It can be a feeling, like loving kindness for all; a mantra, like Ham-Sah; a sound, like the air conditioner or a bell ringing; a bodily state, like your in-and-out breath – or anything else you can put your attention on.
2. Find a comfortable spot.
Sit up straight, lie down or recline in whatever position works for you.
3. Start with just a few minutes at a time.
Focus on your sound/feeling/mantra. When your thoughts wander (AND THEY ABSOLUTELY WILL), just let them go. Don’t get caught up in one thought or another, and if you do, become aware of it and return to your point of focus. Keep doing that for the allotted time.
4. Try a guided meditation.
These are a great way to ease yourself into the practice. Oprah and Deepak Chopra are currently leading a 21-day online meditation program — and it’s free to participate. Not to mention the 6,487,428 meditation apps and online downloads available. My faves include the Solfeggio scale meditations by Glenn Harold and Yoga Nidra meditations (there are lots of these).
So what the heck are you waiting for? Once you get going, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Kinda like your Keurig.