If you are expecting a step by step tutorial on how to sit like a monk and meditate for hours to give you a perfect peaceful life, then this is not the article for you. This will give you insight as to how meditation has helped me and how it can help you, as well as multiple options to help you find the meditation that is right for you.
For me meditation is how my journey to yoga started. It is also how my journey towards being a better, and more whole person started. Meditation can help you in so many ways, from helping you cope with stress, to falling asleep better and staying asleep longer, to helping cope with ADD/ADHD, to helping you make tough choices in life, to just finding some quiet time for yourself, and so much more. For me I needed to find help de-stressing my life. I was a single mom trying to hold down a full time job, full time school, maintaining my house and home, and being a mom and dad. I had no idea what I was doing, and slowly the pressures of being what I perceived as perfect at all these things on my plate was becoming overwhelming. So I found an some classes about Meditation for your life. A class focused on finding practical and "real world" opportunities and mend ways to meditate. It was 2 months long of meeting twice a week. Talking about different strategies for meditating that work for each individual, figuring what meditation was, and just taking some time to meditate. Every time I left the class I would feel so much better. I would leave relaxed, and feeling rejuvenated, and so when the 2 months were up, I decided to keep things up on my own. I would try meditating for about 5-10 min a day after I out my kid to sleep before I would dive into my nightly homework and/or housework before bed. Little by little my meditations became longer and more eye opening. I started taking short breaks to meditate throughout the day whenever I had 5 min or more to myself, when I would first wake up, and then before bed. As I started practicing meditation more my life became less stressed, and then things started falling into place. My grades improved, my time management became better, I found myself with more energy and a general feeling of goodness. With more time on my hands my meditations became longer and lead me to yoga as a way to move in my meditations. It wasn't long before I started diving into yoga teaching and changing my career from simply being a personal trainer to owning my own business as a trainer and a yoga instructor. I finished my degree in entrepreneuring, and a beginner yoga teaching of 200 hrs and set off down this path. So far it has been great to me. I have more time to take care of me, to be a mom to my daughter, and create a real house and home for myself, and my family.
Yes. Anyone and everyone can benefit from meditation, and the best way to start is slowly and kindly. When you start don't jump into trying something that it hours long, and don't jump in expecting everything to be perfect and fall into place immediately. Be kind to yourself. Different things work for different people so here are a few different approaches to meditation that may help you meditate:
When you meditate, instead of clearing the mind completely, try just focusing on your breath. Here are a few things you can ask yourself or reflect upon:
Does my breath feel cold/hot/moist/dry when I inhale vs exhale?
What kind of sound does my breath make?
Can I feel the physical sensation of the breath in and out?
How long does it take me to inhale vs how long it takes to exhale?
Can I make my inhale time the same as my exhale time?
Am I breathing through my nose or mouth? Is this on purpose?
Is my breath restricted, and if so, where?
Where is my breath going?
Is it smooth or bumpy?
What moves on my body when I breath?
Can I slow my breathing down?
Do I notice a pause between my inhale and exhale?
What does it feel like to observe my breath
2 Affirmations and Visualizations
Sometimes getting lost in a picture is very much like meditation. Pick a picture that speaks to you, in a way that makes you feel what you want out of your meditation. It make take a while for you to find one that works, give it time. Allow yourself to look at the picture for some time, and then close your eyes and try to recreate the image in your mind. Here is an example of one I like to use.
If you are nota visual person, words may work better for you. An affirmation will allow your words to make an impact on you. Finish the sentence “I am…” with one word that embodies what you want to accomplish out of your meditation ex: if what you want out of your meditation is to feel less stressed your affirmation could be I am calm, or I am peaceful.
A third option I like to add here is for those whos’ learning style is auditory, meaning you like to listen. If you are the type of person who likes to listen to music, or learn well from listening, then maybe music is the right path for you. Find a body of music that you enjoy and start there. Close your eyes and just listen to the music. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, and notice how you feel when the music plays. Notice if there are changes in your emotions during different parts of the song. Ask yourself why they change.
If you want a bit of a challenge try picking out one instrument and tuning out the others focusing on one instrument during the entire song. For this option, I would suggest picking a song that you might not know very well, and staying away from songs with lyrics.
Mantra is the repetition of a scared word or words. The root man comes from manana meaning thought, and the root tra meaning instrument. The word or sound used for a mantra reverses the usual reason of conveying meaning, whereby the mantra creates a thought. The mantra is a vibration that has its own power. Take “OM” for example OM is not so much a word, as it is a vibration. It is said that if you took all the noise in the world and smashed it together, it would make the Om sound, and as we know when there is a lot of noise, or a loud noise, you can feel it in your body as a vibration. Allow yourself to repeat this om sound (aum) outloud as a way to use your voice to help you meditate.
4 Devotion, Prayer, or Intention
Regardless of your religion or belief system, prayer is a form of meditation. When you pray, you allow yourself to connect to others; other spirits, people, divine beings. Allow your beliefs to help you find a prayer that speaks to you and take time just to quietly say it, and then reflect upon it; what it meant to you, and how it made you feel.
mindfulness is simply being aware of the here and now. Try this when you first wake up. Before you get out of bed, can you think yourself through how you will get out of bed? What will your feet do, your heart, your breath, your legs? Now get out of bed slowly and pay attention to what your feet do, your heart, your breath, your legs, notice how your feet feel, your heart, your breath, your legs.
6 Contemplative Inquiry
Meditation is not, sitting picture perfect, with no thoughts, meditation is learning about yourself. Think about how your thoughts travel and why they travel. Learn about them, to learn about you. Take 5 minutes and let your thoughts wander. Let them go wherever they want. At the end of the 5 minutes try to retrace or though pattern. If you have trouble remembering your thoughts or this becomes frustrating, then write them down through journaling, and then reflect on your journal entry.
During your reflection allow yourself to learn about your thoughts. Ask yourself:
How did you go from one thought to the next?
Did certain thoughts stick out more to you than others?
Did one thought or idea reoccur?
Was it hard to allow your mind to wander?
Another thing that people often misconceive about meditation is that you must be sitting down cross legged with your eyes closed in order to properly meditate. This is totally false.
If you like sitting, but crossing your legs hurts, then find a seated pose that works for you. Try extending you legs long out in front of you, or bending your knees into a tuck, or sitting on your heels in a kneeling stance, or even sitting in a chair. Maybe it’s not your legs that don’t like how you sit but your back; if so sit with your back against something like in the chair, or up against a wall.
You don’t have to sit though, maybe lying down is more comfortable for you. If this is the case, then go for it! (just try not to fall asleep everytime haha).
Some people like to stand. If you are a type A personality and you want to feel a bit more energized, or if you were sitting all day and feel like standing, try standing during your meditation.
The point of meditation is not to sit perfectly or have your mind be totally quiet; the point of meditation is to help you learn about yourself, and your thoughts. It is through learning these things that you are able to find peace, tranquility, insight, and so much more. So pick a comfortable way to position yourself, and try some of these different ways to help you find your meditative state, and get to meditating!