Mind your meditation
Some people have a mild misconception about meditating – a couple of people I’ve spoken to about it, anyway.
Some of them believe that it’s a strange religious worship thing; others think that it’s something only hippies do. And then there are those who swear it’s some divine evil concocted by the devil himself.
The goal of meditation is to focus and quiet your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm.
Evil? No. Religious? Only if you want it to be. Hippyish? If you like…
I was one of those people who thought meditating belonged with dream catchers and strange wheat grass drinks and braided hair. I never dreamed it would be something I believed in so much that I’d end up writing a 1000 + word post about it!
Why do people meditate?
I meditate for a lot of reasons: to stop feeling anxious, to focus on my work, to relax, to feel inspired, and to feel more spiritual or to pray.
Meditating can be religious, or it can be spiritual. Or it can be both. There are no hard or fast rules for it – it’s something that YOU choose how to do.
MEDITATING IS LIKE A GIFT YOU GIVE YOURSELF.
10 Major benefits of meditating
- Stress release
- Better concentration
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves mood
- Increases creativity
- Reduces depression
- Increases memory
- Increases productivity
- Emotional balance
- Better focus
In my opinion – there is no down side to meditating. It’s something I wish I’d learned about YEARS ago. I would have saved myself a hell of a lot of stress and countless trips to the doctor.
Finding time to meditate
This is something I’m guilty of too… convincing myself on those really busy and stressful days that I just don’t have the time. And funny enough, those are the days when I REALLY need it the most.
You don’t have to sit still for an hour to meditate.
You don’t even have to sit still for 15 minutes. If you’re just starting out, five minutes is all you need. Once you start getting used to this daily “me time” you’ve carved out for yourself, you can start adding a few minutes here and there if you want to.
MEDITATING IS SOMETHING YOU SHOULD LOOK FORWARD TO – IT’S NOT A CHORE.
Most of the time, I like to get in five minutes in the morning. It’s a great way to start the day. It’s also one of my favourite ways to unwind before going to bed… a way to just calm the mind of whatever happened during the day.
It’s also something I used to do often working a highly stressful job. I’d get in my car or go to the bathroom for a few minutes, just to sit down and breathe – to try and calm down. It worked every time, and it was my saving grace on a lot of those days.
Getting the basics down
So how EXACTLY does this meditating thing work?!
It might sound great, but how does one DO it?
This is an easy 10-step guide to get started with meditation. But, once you get more comfortable with what you’re doing, feel free to personalise it and make it yours.
- Find your spot. This can be a sunny spot on the porch, or outside in your garden. It can be next to your bed, or on a mat in your bathroom. Anywhere that’s free of distractions.
- Make it yours. Put something in that spot that will make you look forward to going there. For example, you can set out a candle or two, light some incense sticks (this is my favourite way to meditate for longer periods), etc. Use whatever you’ve got lying around, or splurge on a little water fountain, for example, if you really want to create a tranquil experience.
- Stretch. I usually do a minute or two of some light stretches to release any built-up tension. Shrug your shoulders, move your head from side to side, swing your arms, rotate your pelvis, stretch your legs, etc. Better yet, incorporate some yoga in before meditating.
- Get comfy. Sit cross legged on a mat or a soft cushion if you’re sitting on the floor.
- Time yourself. I use the stopwatch on my cellphone to block off five, 10, or 15 minutes. That way I know I’ve carved out a set time just for meditating. If you want to, mark it off on your calendar – just as if it was a business meeting so that you’ve got a set time to do it.
- Close your eyes and breathe. Breathe in slowly for four counts through your nose and then breathe out for another four counts – this time through your mouth. As you become more relaxed, you can increase the counts to 7.
- Be kind to yourself. If your mind wanders – and in the beginning it will – don’t get frustrated and give up. You’re probably not going to get it 100% perfect the first few times, and that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal. Just keep bringing yourself back to your “happy place.”
- Your “happy place.” I try and think about a huge white piece of ice – like the Arctic – in front of me when I start to meditate. It helps keep me focused on relaxing and not thinking about what I’m supposed to be doing in the next half an hour. Think about whatever makes you feel relaxed. It can be a tropical island, or a deserted field in the middle of nowhere, etc.
- In cool, out hot. Another way to focus on what you’re doing and prevent your mind from drifting is to pretend you’re breathing in cool, positive air, and breathing out hot, negative air.
- Be prepared. Don’t be alarmed if you feel an overwhelming surge of happiness or emotion sometime during your meditation. This is a GOOD thing. It’s a way of connecting with who you are, and what you’re meant to be doing with your life.
Real life benefits of meditating
Just to give you a quick example of what meditating did for me recently…
I don’t meditate every day, I try to, but sometimes I get lazy or distracted with work – that’s why I decided to write this post. I have a new venture I’m launching on 1 June and I’ve spent the last month trying to come up with a name. (If you’ve ever tried to come up with a name – be it for your baby or your business, you’ll understand how hard it can be). I literally have pages upon pages of around 200 + names. I meditated the other day for 15 minutes and afterwards I did a few more scribbles on my sheet of paper. Five minutes later, I came up with the name. Just like that. It’s as if a little light-bulb finally decided to come on in my head! I couldn’t believe it. Yes, I really didn’t meditate like that for a month. Imagine the time I could have saved!
If a person’s basic state of mind is serene and calm, then it is possible for this inner peace to overwhelm a painful physical experience. – The Dalai Lama
I’ve been using this 15-minute meditation video the last week or so and I LOVE it.
It makes me feel as though I’m in Bali, sitting outside and smelling the ocean when I listen to it.
So if you’re looking for some background meditation music or want to give it a try, this is a GREAT one to start with.
P.S. You can always set your timer and only do five minutes in the beginning if you don’t feel like doing the whole thing. I HIGHLY recommend setting your timer for 14 minutes with this one, because unfortunately once the meditation part is over, it goes straight into a very loud advert. Not what you want to hear after a relaxing meditation! Other than that, this one gets two thumbs up from me.