We know just how busy and hectic life tends to be these days. More often than not, we are ‘human doings’ versus ‘human beings’ – always moving from one thing to the other, and then on to the next! Whether it’s lunches on-the-go (very often while walking), late night responses to email before bed, or running your little ones from dance class to soccer practice (and sometimes back again), we are constantly going – or at the very least THINKING about what’s next. While having a full schedule can be rewarding and good for the soul (many claim they’re happiest when they have something to do), never allowing yourself to slow down and check out once in a while is not. To avoid burnout, it’s extremely important to set time aside for yourself, be it daily or weekly. This goes for all ages. For example, you KNOW when your 5 year old is ready for nap time. They typically become a little fussy or grumpy – sometimes even a few (or a lot of) tears are shed. They are 100% unapologetic for the way in which they tell you it’s time for them to slow down – it’s fantastic! Shouldn’t the same go for you?
Now, we understand that squeezing in a nap is not always doable. Neither may be reading a book or watching a quick TV show, or stepping into a kick-ass Boogie Barre or dance class. And, it’s not always due to a lack of free time either. It may be because your brain is on overload and you just can’t seem to turn it off – darn those thoughts! So what’s the alternative? Let us introduce you to a free and all-natural stress-buster known as, Meditation. It provides benefits such as decreased anxiety and stress, increased concentration, and the ability to live in the now – to be present – which promotes an overall general feeling of happiness. Sound good to you? Read on for 7 simple tips to get your Meditation Practice underway…
1. Make a Meditation Date with Yourself
Put it on the calendar – whatever works for your schedule – every day, once a day – or for beginners, try 3-4x a week. We recommend setting time aside first thing in the morning when you’re at your brightest and before your mind kicks into high gear along with the rest of the world. Start with 10 minutes and work up to 20-30. There’s no rush though – be easy with yourself.
2. Get Comfy
It’s up to you whether you’re most comfortable sitting cross legged (and no, it doesn’t have to be like a yogi pretzel), in a chair or lying down on the floor (not the bed, it’s too cushy for this sort of thing). Whatever it is, and wherever it may be (in your bedroom, in the car, etc.), get yourself settled and close your eyes. Completely relax your body. Let go of any tension you might be holding in your jaw, hips, stomach, etc.
Notice your breathing, observe your breathing, but do not manipulate your breathing. In other words, you do not need to begin breathing huge gulps of air in through your nose and then exhaling out through your mouth. Just breathe. Tapping into your natural breath is a fantastic way to enter the meditation. While you may find it speeds up unnaturally the moment you place your attention on it, eventually it will slow down on its own. Your thoughts will then begin to disappear and your body will start to relax.
4. Pick a Mantra
Pick a word or phrase as your mantra and repeat it silently in your head. For example: “Love”, “Om” or “Yes, please”. This allows you to narrow your focus and eventually slip away from – or slow down – the hustle and bustle of your busy mind. If you catch your mind beginning to wander, just gently pull it back by refocusing on your Mantra. It doesn’t matter how many times you may have to regain focus – it’s okay. Meditating is about being calm, present and non-judgemental with yourself.
5. Light a Candle
For those who find it difficult to meditate with their eyes closed, pick your favourite candle (could be scented), light it and place it right in front of you. You can now use the flame as a point of focus in order to enter your meditation.
6. Set Low Expectations
In other words, don’t expect a transformative experience your first, second or maybe even 50th time. Meditation is an active process, and just like anything else, requires practice. So don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t have the experience you hoped for. You will in time. Again, just be easy with yourself and use those 10 minutes to tune in. Don’t focus on the result, focus on the process.
7. Relax & Enjoy
As a final reminder: This is YOUR time. It’s YOUR time to turn inward and explore. It’s YOUR time to become insular and find peace within – be it for a full 30 minutes or maybe only a few for those who are just starting to explore the benefits of meditation. Be free. Be relaxed. Be open.