Sometimes when people hear the word “meditation” they have immediate blocks or preconceived notions. It might conjure up images of sitting still for hours on end. Maybe you’re afraid of what you might find deep in the depths of your psyche. Or maybe you are interested but just don’t think you have the time to commit to it. Well, I’m here to tell you that meditation isn’t hard, scary or time-consuming. And you can literally do it at any time throughout the day (yes, even while you are doing other things).
What IS meditation?
Ultimately, meditation is about perspective. It is about detaching from your overactive brain and your emotions briefly enough to observe them without judgment. WTF does that mean? It’s about getting out of our own way so that when our thoughts or emotions start running away with us, we can reclaim them and come back to center. And there are lots of benefits! According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation can help reduce stress, chronic pain (such as headaches), and blood pressure, as well as help you quit smoking and better navigate a variety of mental health conditions.
How meditation has helped me:
I tell people all the time that mindfulness and meditation have quite literally transformed my life. Before I started a meditation practice, I was suffering from pretty crushing anxiety on a daily basis. I was trying to climb out of some mounting insecurities, stress at work and the general feeling that I had to be everything to everyone at all times. I started practicing yoga and meditation at about the same time and I don't think I could have predicted how far I would have come in centering myself. I am not saying it is a magical prescription for all of your problems. You are not alone in feeling these emotions, but the amazing thing is, your emotions don’t have to control you!
So, where do I begin?
Meditation is a practice
First off, remember that everyone can meditate and you can’t do it wrong. Mindfulness is like working out a muscle. You will get more comfortable and will be able to go deeper the more often you practice. Lesson: just keep practicing!
I recommend starting small and frequently. Meditating for one minute once a day is better than 10 minutes once a week. Start with purposeful, deep breaths throughout the day. A morning or bedtime guided meditation will not take any time out of your day. Think about it…Do you snooze your alarm 8-15 minutes in the morning? Awesome. Instead of snoozing, pop on a 10-minute guided meditation while you’re still laying cozy in your bed. Voila. I love morning meditations because they help start the day off on the right foot. However, listening to a guided meditation when you go to sleep might be the perfect entrance into mindfulness for you. Try out different versions and see what works for you. If you’re looking for guided meditations to get you started, I wrote a post on some of my favorites here.
Get a teacher, a buddy or an app
What did people do before meditation apps? The app I use daily is called Insight Timer and I’m a little obsessed. There are teachers, it helps you track your progress and keeps you accountable, and so many amazing features for connecting with others. There are a lot of other great apps that I don’t have experience with, but I hear great things about including Headspace and Calm.
You can meditate anywhere, anytime
Being present in the moment is all that you need for a successful meditation practice. My favorite times to meditate are while driving, walking, chopping food or doing the dishes. You’re asking: How can you meditate while driving? Isn’t that dangerous? Being present in the moment is about doing just that and nothing else. If I am meditating in the car, I am just driving and observing. I am not thinking about what I am doing later. I am not thinking about what I should have done yesterday. I am not thinking about my to-do list or my goals or how I haven’t achieved what I wanted to achieve in life yet or that I forgot to feed the cats. Does this constant ticker of thoughts sound familiar? Being present means disconnecting from these thoughts entirely for a short while. It takes practice but it is more than possible, it is freeing.
Do you have a meditation practice? Let me know if this is helpful for you to get started or if you have any additional tips for meditation for beginners!