Ah, meditation. You may have heard of this seemingly elusive practice from Oprah, your yoga teacher or the friend you call a hippy. Meditation has become a buzzword with the shift toward personal health and wellness starting to permeate through our societies, and for good reason. Meditation has the power to reduce stress, improve concentration, increase happiness and self-awareness…. but what is it? If you haven’t been formally introduced, I’d like to give you an easy guide to begin a meditation practice that works for your life. It’s all about calming the mind.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ~ Confucius
Meditation is a simple practice that has become overcomplicated. The basic idea is that whenever your mind begins to loop and get caught up in the details of everyday life, you simply bring your attention back to your breath. And then you just keep doing that, over and over, until your timer sounds or your workout is over. The point of the practice is that you begin to realize that your attention and concentration are like muscles that need to be exercised. As your practice progresses with time, you’ll start to notice your focus, awareness and interactions will begin to improve dramatically. Why? Because you’re paying attention.
You only need two things to start the journey towards calming the mind:
#1 | A PLACE TO SIT
If you’re just beginning your practice, it’s important to consciously take time to meditate. Find a comfortable seat that works for you; whether it’s a chair, a cushion on the ground, or sitting upright on a couch. The importance of an upright seat is that you are still awake and alert to the sensation of your breath moving through your body. This is why I wouldn’t recommend laying in bed during your meditation practice purely because of the forgivable temptation to fall asleep. If laying flat on your back feels better for you, support the underside of your head and lay on the ground or grass.
#2 | A TIMER
No matter whether you use your phone timer, a meditation app or the timer on your oven, the act of giving yourself a set amount of time to focus on nothing but your breath is what will give your practice life towards calming the mind. Don’t think you need to be ambitious and meditate for hours at a time. If this is all new to you, start with two minutes. If you can get through two minutes, maybe next time try five or ten minutes. Alternatively, if two minutes feels like a lifetime, then you have something to work towards. Try to get a gauge on how strong your attention muscles are at this moment in your life. It’s far less important how much time you make than it is to make the time.
If you’re a human and you have a busy, beautiful and sometimes stressful life, it’s up to you to make the choice to fit the practice of calming the mind into your day and do it for no one other than yourself. Remember not to over-complicate things: there is no ‘right moment’ to stop and think about your breathing. Your breath is your friend, your tool and it is available for you to tap into any time you like.
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