If you are like me, you wear a lot of hats everyday…wife, mother, full-time employee, daughter, sister, friend. There are countless people I have to check in with or report to everyday; the responsibilities are endless and so is the stress. By the end of the day, I usually feel the stress creep into my neck and shoulders. And unfortunately, an overpriced massage isn’t always in the cards.
Meditation is something I have always considered, given all the well-documented health benefits. Clearly meditation relieves accumulated stress and prevents stress from entering the body, and it offers countless other benefits. Physically, meditation has been documented to lower high blood pressure, decreasing tension-related pain, enhancing serotonin production (improves mood), improves the immune system and increases energy. Mentally, it helps to decrease anxiety, stabilize mood, increase creativity and happiness, gain clarity and peace of mind, and sharpen the mind.
But how do you actually start, and more importantly, how do you quiet your mind? If you are like me, quietening your mind is a tall task which can be intimidating.
How to meditate
1) Make it a formal practice. Set aside a specific time everyday to be still.
2) Start with the breath. Breathing deep slows the heart rate, relaxes the muscles, focuses the mind and is an ideal way to begin practice.
3) Stretch first. Stretching loosens the muscles and tendons allowing you to sit (or lie) more comfortably.
4) Meditate with purpose. Beginners must understand that meditation is an ACTIVE process. The art of focusing your attention to a single point is hard work, and you have to be purposefully engaged!
5) Pick a specific room in your home to meditate. Make sure it is not the same room where you do work, exercise, or sleep.
6) Commit for the long haul. Meditation is a life-long practice, and you will benefit most by NOT examining the results of your daily practice. Just do the best you can every day, and then let it go!
7) Make sure you will not be disturbed. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is not insuring peaceful practice conditions.
8) Do NOT Stress. This may be the most important tip for beginners, and the hardest to implement. No matter what happens during your meditation practice, do not stress about it. This includes being nervous before meditating and angry afterwards. Meditation is what it is, and just do the best you can at the time.
9) Meditate early in the morning. Without a doubt, early morning is an ideal
time to practice: it is quieter, your mind is not filled with the usual clutter, and there is less chance you will be disturbed. Make it a habit to get up half an hour earlier to meditate.
10) Be grateful at the end. Once your practice is through, spend 2-3 minutes feeling appreciative of the opportunity to practice and your mind’s ability to focus.