Do you meditate? Have you heard about meditation? Or is meditation something foreign and unknown to you? Let's talk about what meditation is, its benefits, and how to do it! It is a simple tool you can learn to use when you need to reset your body and mind.
What is Meditation (in simple terms)?
Meditation is training our attention and developing a sense of awareness. It is when we take time to focus our mind for a period of time, short or long, and notice what shows up. It is a practice, and our experience will be different every time!
What Meditation is NOT.
Meditation is not always going to be a peaceful, quiet mind without thoughts! This can be a goal of meditation, and it will not be an every time experience. Meditation also does not require incense, chanting, a specific kind of outfit or knowledge of yoga.
Who is Meditation for?
Mediation is for anyone who wants to reduce stress and become more aware of their thoughts and sensations of their body. There are many types of meditations, and there is no wrong way to do it! Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime needed.
What are the Benefits of Meditation?
Meditation has MANY benefits, too numerous to list all of them here. But here are my top favorites and reasons why I try to incorporate meditation in my daily routine!
helps reduce anxiety
improves the immune system
decreases the part of the brain that initiates the stress response, thereby minimizing the effects of stress
can increase dopamine and serotonin for mood regulation
strengthens areas of the brain for memory, learning and emotional flexibility
increase cognitive and emotional well-being
Tell me More about Meditation.
Meditation and mindfulness are two words often connected. Meditation can help us increase our ability to be mindful, or experience our lives in a more honest, direct way without judgment. When we can use meditation to create mindfulness, we can work on removing the filters of "good" and "bad" so that we can reduce the suffering that comes from the judgement and over identification with our emotions. Have you ever had moments in life that seem so BIG, so IMPORTANT, so HARD, so DIFFICULT that you get stuck? Or feelings that are overwhelming to the point where you get frozen? Maybe anxiety that makes it hard to breathe? Meditation's goal is to help us realize that our emotions are universal and fleeting, or "this too shall pass." This does not mean we diminish our experience, rather that we identify with it as it is, experience it, and let it go when needed. Mindfulness in action can look like:
not overindulging in our feelings
connecting with the moment in an honest way
understanding our response without judgment
awakening to experiences as they arise and resisting telling a story about it
not tied to right or wrong
learning to go with the flow of life
How to Meditate.
There are MANY ways to meditate, and we will look at a simple meditation focused on awareness. First, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down (lying down can be tricky if you are tired as you might fall asleep!). You can sit in chair, on the couch or the floor, just find a way to sit comfortably with your head, shoulders and hips aligned so your spine is long and tall.
Once seated, try closing your eyes to bring your awareness truly to yourself and not on your surroundings
Start by taking a few deep breaths. In through the nose and out through the nose is the best way to stimulate the relaxation response in your nervous system. Use a sense of ease as you breathe so that you aren't exerting too much power.
Begin to notice your body and your physical experience. Do you notice tight points, tension points, pulling points? Do you have spaces that feel good?
Start to notice your energy level--high, low, contained, leaking?
Notice your emotional body--are you feeling joy, sadness, busy mind, etc?
As you moving through these last three points, try not to judge yourself or label what you notice as good or bad; it is simply what is. Try not to create a story or reason why.
Then, return to your breath. Take a few more moments to just breath into your body, mind and experience, as it is.
After, take a moment to reflect. Maybe there are certain actions you can take to support your experience, or actions you can take to change how you are feeling. Most importantly, allow yourself to be the observer--you notice and move on without getting stuck in the story.
The Bottom Line?
Meditation is a tool and practice anyone can try. It has benefits for any lifestyle and can be done many ways. The way above is one of my favorites, and try out as many as you need until you find what works for you!
How to start? Just start! Begin where you are. 5 min a day is an amazing place--and maybe you have more or less time to devote. Overtime, you'll feel the benefits. Some days will be easy, some days will be challenging, but remember--no judgment! :) If you subscribe to my emails, you'll find a special FREE meditation in your inbox soon!