Do you meditate?
I asked this question on Facebook the other day. The answers went from "I try" to "Every day" with a healthy range of various other responses in between. I also asked people to tell me about their practice. It's such an intimate question, but so many of my friends were willing to share. Here are just a few of the responses.
"My mind is constantly racing and if I don't meditate I am up till all hours of the night. I think of it a lot like a power nap. Necessary." -- Chris
"Get up as early as needed to make the time. I'm going on 2 months now of meditating 20 minutes a day. Usually lying down on the floor or an air mattress (helps me feel more floaty)...deep breathing with a gong playing on my phone every 60 seconds. Just helps to set my day right." -- Brad
"I do but not as regularly as I think I should. But when I'm really stressed I close my eyes and focus on my breath for a few minutes to center and calm myself." -- Debra
"Yes, I do several different things - mostly I walk." -- Star
"Yeah. Happier and less angry when I do it consistently. I describe it as 'softer'." -- Kate
"I did when I was trying to get pregnant and was basically standing on my head against a wall for a half hour. (LOL) I miss it and just started researching it again today." -- Natalie
"Praying is my meditation." -- Denise
There's a reason people feel less stress, or "softer" when meditating regularly. Meditation is all about here and now. It takes a while to get there, but with practice, you come to a place of where you can clear your mind of all the check lists and worries that rattle around in your head all day.
Meditation is not as woo woo as you might think. The feeling of lightness and lowered anxiety is actually very scientific. During meditation, your mind goes into recovery mode, much like an athlete taking a recovery day between training days.
My Meditation Practice
I typically meditate in the morning. Not all mornings. Some days, I roll out of bed and forget to take that quiet time before starting my day. Most mornings, though, I do force myself to get into a quiet space.
Sleep isn't always a time of rest for me. Some nights, I experience the deepest, soundest sleep. Other nights, I toss and turn with worries over things that haven't even happened yet. It's not unusual for me to get out of bed in the middle of the night to do a headstand. Don't ask me why, but concentrating on that makes the hamster in my brain stop spinning on the wheel.
Here's the thing... it's a PRACTICE. As in, not perfect. If we slip and miss a day, there's no need to beat ourselves up. And you don't have to know much to get started either. So now that we all understand that you don't have to be perfect, here are my imperfect tips for starting your meditation practice.
5 Tips to Start a Meditation Practice
1 - Choose a convenient time: Don't set yourself up for failure by choosing a time that will cause friction in your day. Pick a time that you know will be easy for you. It might be morning, evening, or when the kids go down for a nap in the afternoon. For me, the moment I get out of bed is the best time. Once I open my bedroom door and walk out into the hallway, it's on. The dog has to be walked and fed, the kids need to get up, get dressed, and have breakfast. Then we all jump on our computers and get to work. There's no down time until late in the evening. WIthout that time of meditation in the morning, I'm a wreck all day.
2 - Choose a quiet place: I'm fortunate enough to live close to a freeway with a yard that backs up to three neighbors that are always doing some kind of construction on their properties. It's awesome. Oh wait... NO IT'S NOT!!! It's rather noisy in my yard in the morning, but I like to be out on the patio in the fresh air, so I use these handy little things called "ear plugs" to give me the quiet that my neighbors won't. You might be lucky enough to have a naturally quiet spot, but if not, I highly recommend a little foam in your noise holes.
3 - Start with a few warm ups: Before I get into a seated position, I do a little stretching. I usually start with some sun salutations. I reach my hands to the sky and folding over, allow my head and arms to hang freely until my body forgets it's too tight to bend. I walk my legs back into a downward dog, then plank, chataranga, cobra, back to a downward dog, and hopping my feet back between my hands, I end as I began, this time with a more comfortable foldover. Arms back to the sky for one final stretch and I'm ready to take a seat on my blanket.
4 - Sit comfortably: You can sit on a yoga mat, but I prefer to sit on a folded beach blanket. It feels like I'm sitting on a cloud and my mind isn't thinking about any lingering discomfort I might be feeling in my hips or back. You don't need a big beach blanket to start. You can use a folded towel, or if you don't wake up with the little aches and pains of getting older (you lucky little minx), you can just sit on a yoga mat. Legs can be criss-cross or butterfly (palms of your feet touching each other), wrists resting gently on your knees.
5 - Breathe: This is where the magic happens. Breathe deeply. Think about your breathing. Picture the air going in and out of your lungs. Let the cool morning air fill you up. If you're into visulazation, you can picture clean blue air going in and filling your body and exhaling all of your worries in the form of whatever color you didn't like in the Crayola box. Maze is a good one. That color was horrendous. Anyway... just breathe. If your mind starts to wander to your list of to-do's, clear the thought away and focus once again on your breathing. Clearing your mind will feel impossible at first, but eventually, you'll get used to it and even yearn for that space.
If you're not so sure you can do this meditation thing without a little more help, Gaiam TV has a Beginner's Guide to Meditation with guided practices to help you get into, well, your practice. It's a subscription based site, but right now, they're offering a trial month for 99 cents. I think your sanity is worth it.
Meditation keeps me sane and keeps the people in my life safe from my evil twin, Aspertame. And from the responses I got to my question on Facebook, it keeps a lot of my friends sane, too. If you're ready to reclaim a little sanity in your life, look into starting a meditation practice.
Psst... This is a sponsored opportunity that I chose because it aligns with my life.