I have always been intrigued by meditation, but until recently, didn't know how to go about it. There are so many different types of meditation and learning how to do them "right" seemed like too much effort. Whenever I tried to meditate, I ended up criticizing myself for going on tangents in my mind, for not focusing on my breath or whatever visualization I was supposed to do. The experience was more frustrating that it was helpful.
This year, I started becoming more interested in meditation when I learned on a podcast that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. This kind of baffled me...aren't you supposed to completely clear your mind? Prevent any unwanted thoughts? The answer is no -- you cannot control the thoughts that pop into your mind, but you can choose which thoughts you want to hold onto in the moment. In other words, when you're in the middle of meditating and realize that you forgot to get a present for your friend's birthday, you can choose to table that thought for later. Acknowledge, but do not judge the thought. Just let it pass by, leaving room for other space in your mind.
With this explanation, meditation seemed so much more accessible, so I decided to give it a try! Before long, I was in the habit of meditating, and loving it. Adding a simple meditation practice to my life has benefited me in many ways, including:
Below are some tips for other newbie meditators like me:
- Providing perspective: No matter what is on the news, no matter what I have to do that day, spending 10 minutes alone, focusing on self-care, provides me with the perspective I need to get through the day. Even on the worst of days, I know I always have a safe place just for myself.
- Improving sleep: My ability to meditate makes sleeping much easier. If I'm stressed out when closing my eyes, I start meditating, letting my thoughts float by, or sorting them into neat boxes in my mind's eye. Meditating allows me to relax, and ultimately sleep.
- Generating an understanding of what it means to "live in the present moment": Everyone always says this -- live in the moment. It's something we've heard throughout our lives, but what does it really mean? And how do we do this? It never occurred to me how much I was living in the past and future until I started meditating. Meditating has taught me how to live more in the present moment, while I meditate and also throughout the day. The present moment is a safe space where the past and future can't affect me. Meditating has taught me that the present is real, and a space that I can occupy.
I am still new to meditating, and I know that meditation is like a sport -- my mind is a muscle, and meditating is working it out! The great thing about meditating is that you can work at it in a way that's unique to you. There is no right or wrong way.
- Dedicate a specific time of day to meditate: When you're starting out, you don't have to meditate for a long time. Even 5 minutes is enough. I personally like to meditate in the evening, for 10-15 minutes. Meditating at the same time of day makes it routine, rather than something you can easily skip or forget about.
- Try some guided meditations (audio or audiovisual tracks where someone walks you through the meditation): When you find someone you like to guide your meditation practice, you'll feel more comfortable when meditating. I personally like listening to Raquelle Mantra on https://www.yourownmagic.life/. Her voice is soothing and the imagery she conjures up through her words is peaceful.
- Journal after meditating: Meditation frees your mind from those thoughts and to-do's bothering you, leaving more space for inspiration and creativity. After I meditate, I like to write in my journal, about my experience meditating or anything that comes to mind afterwards. My post-meditation writing tends to be insightful and positive.
- Don't be so hard on yourself: Some days, meditation just doesn't feel right. Your mind is cluttered and it doesn't want to turn off. That's OK. Sit through the practice and know that it's just one of those days.
Meditating by a stream
Labels: breathe, Meditation, mental health