This is a topic that I’ve wanted to write about for some time now. I want to share with you the methods by which I not only keep myself sane, but also find solace.
In this article, you’re not going to learn about deep meditation theory, advanced meditative techniques, or how to achieve enlightenment. I am here to teach you how to begin your meditation practice.
So often, I see people tormented by the blows of this reality. They have no idea on how to conjure peace or quiet their mind. And I get it. Gaining perspective and finding balance is one of the great challenges of this life.
I find myself sometimes caught in a limbo state where it’s impossible to relax or be productive:
Me: “Let’s get some work done!”
My Brain: “No, I can’t focus. I’m just too all over the place.”
Me: “Okay, well let’s do something fun, then!”
My Brain: “No, I feel too guilty about not being productive to relax.”
Do you ever feel like that?
When you get to that point, most often what you need is some time alone to just be.
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Comment below if you meditate, and where your favorite place is to do so!
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness.
It is just being. Finding peace and contentment with just existing. Like it’s enough; like it’s okay to just reside in the spot you chose. Like the whole world may move around you, but you can remain calm. Allowing your mind to fall hush, your body to remain still, and your spirit to reconnect.
It’s like pressing a reset button on your depression and anxiety. Returning to home base. Wiping the slate blank, to start again. I say this so simply. Believe me, it’s not an easy skill to learn.
Meditation is not concentration. It’s quite the opposite, actually. Imagine returning from a roaring sea to a glassy surface of water. Sounds refreshing doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
Yoga, while closely related, isn’t meditation either.
Though, one could reside in a meditative state while performing it. This ancient, popular exercise form was originally designed to prep the body for meditation.
Some advanced meditators sit in silence for hours at a time. Yoga was made to make the body more limber, preparing it for hours of butt-numbing, muscle-straining position holding.
The more you know, right?
Eventually, we will be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances.
If we do not know peace, then we will remain unhappy, even in the best of conditions. By training in meditation, we create an inner space and clarity that enables us to control our mind.
Mood fluctuations arise because we are too intimately absorbed in the external situation. When the outside world so easily affects your mental state, you’re in trouble. Many things remain outside of our control.
Meditation allows us to create an inner space and clarity; we are then enabled to control our mind, regardless of what happens around us.
Gradually we develop mental equilibrium, a balanced mind that is happy all the time, rather than an unbalanced mind that oscillates between the extremes of excitement and despondency.
A side effect (bonus) that I personally experience and love from practicing meditation is what I like to call a meditative state. It’s this level of zen where you can perform tasks that once bored or peeved you with ease. Doing the dishes is no longer a “chore” for me; I see it as a time to perform a mindless task, allowing my mind to take a break.
With this zen, you also begin to see how frivolous certain aspects of your life may be. Did you really have to get upset at someone’s negative opinion of something you like? Are things like that even relevant?
Some of the health benefits of meditation:
- Increased immunity
- Emotional balance
- Increased fertility
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) relief
- Decrease blood pressure
- Decreased anxiety
Are you convinced yet? Read more about these benefits here.
When and Where Can I Meditate?
You can practice any place that you are in a quiet space with no distractions.
You don’t necessarily need to be alone; many people meditate along side others.
Personally, I like to create a zen environment. I’ll turn on my essential oils diffuser, light some incense, or a candle. Your nose will soon grow tired of the smell, but it will help to soothe your body and mind going into your practice.
I’ve heard of some people that like to play spa music, as it’s very calming. While this is true, I do not recommend it. You’re trying to clear your mind, not occupy it with something else, however pleasant it may be.
If you live somewhere beautiful, feel free to do your meditating outside! By water, in a forest, on a blanket in the grass… the possibilities only end at your imagination!
How Do I Meditate?
Many opinions exist on this topic, but I’m going to put it very simply for you.
There are 3 phases that I make a point to go through when I meditate. I love lists, and so mentally checking these stages off while I meditate feels so rewarding.
You don’t need a ton of time to start meditating. And you’ll slip into it faster each time.
You can start in as little as 2 minutes a day. Some days are way busier than others. That’s life! Chanting may help to silence the mind; giving your buzzing thoughts something mindless to do. Pick a mantra that means something to you, and repeat it over and over until it loses meaning.
Step 1: Go to your zen space, have a seat, close your eyes, and hum/chant if you please. Personally, I like silence. Begin to breathe deeply, allowing your diaphragm to expand and contract.
Step 2: Remain aware of yourself, and if you must think, think only of your breathing. In and out. In and out. In and out.
Step 3: Imagine there is a border around your body, separating you from the rest of your surroundings. Now, imagine erasing that border, and blending into everything else. Revel in the feeling of oneness and remain still, just existing, for as long as you like.
You did it!
You’ll notice how incredibly calm and level-headed you become during this practice, even if it is only 2 minutes.
There are many levels to meditation, but just start with this basic method. You’ll soon find your way.