“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
~~ Helen Keller
(Photo courtesy of The Ayurvedic Path)
In last week’s post, I asked if there were specific yoga topics you wanted to know more about. Several of you mentioned wanting to know more about meditation, and I think now is a good time to focus on that very topic, as I am not teaching one single yoga class this week or next week.
You’re probably wondering why this is the perfect time to focus on meditation if I am not even going to be teaching it to you in a class. But that’s the beauty of meditation…you can do it anywhere, and for as long as you have the time to do it! So if you’re as busy as I am going to be these next couple of weeks, there couldn’t be a more perfect time for you to begin a meditation practice if you don’t already have one.
Meditation is something I feel everyone should be doing on a daily basis. Benefits of meditation include, but are not limited to:
- Stress reduction
- Better physical and mental health
- Improved focus and memory
- Reduction in anxiety
I know that for me, when I meditate, I sleep better and I just feel better overall. Sometimes I have only a few minutes to devote to it, but I really love when I can find the time to get in 15-30 minutes.
How to begin? Well, the answer is, “It depends.” Not everyone can meditate in the same way, so you really need to find what resonates with YOU. There are SO many ways to meditate. But here are some tips that may help get you started:
- Start off small. If you’re brand new to meditating, commit to 5 minutes. As you get comfortable with that, add on if you feel like you can. But even if you only have time for 5 minutes, you get all the benefits I mentioned above.
- Begin by taking 3 mindful breaths. Most of us don’t take time to do this nearly enough. When we’re stressed, we tend to breathe very shallowly and unevenly. Breathing in that way all the time wreaks all sorts of havoc in our bodies. So start off by focusing on taking 3 good, deep breaths. Close your eyes and really focus on breathing in to your entire torso, letting it completely expand. As you exhale, let everything deflate. I recommend exhaling through the mouth, as a big, heavy, audible sigh…it really does wonders in helping you to let go of tension.
- Make sure your environment feels relaxing and comfortable. For myself, it’s hard to find a good place to meditate, as I’ve got a husband, 2 daughters and 3 dogs to contend with. That doesn’t leave me with many quiet spaces where I can truly let go and relax. So for me, I’ve recently started taking a nice bath in the evenings, after the sun has set. I light several candles, turn off the lights, add in my favorite essential oils (usually I use lavendar and grapefruit essential oils, as they are very relaxing scents for me), and I also add about a cup of epsom salts. Epsom salts contain a lot of magnesium and sulfate, both of which are known to induce relaxation. Epsom salts also help reduce inflammation and aid in detox…bonus! Sometimes I read while I’m in the bath, and sometimes I just lay there with my eyes closed and practice deep breathing. Either way, I always feel amazing after!
- Find relaxing music. Not everyone likes to meditate with music, but if you’re having trouble getting your mind to focus on the present moment, if all you can think about is all the stuff you have to DO, then music could be very helpful. Pick music that relaxes you and makes you feel happy.
- Pick a mantra. Again, some people have trouble turning their minds “off”, so sometimes it helps to have a short phrase handy that you can repeat over and over while you’re meditating. It could be a favorite quote from a book or song, or just a simple affirmation that means something to you. Whatever it is, pick something that inspires you, something that makes you feel good about yourself. My go to mantra? “It’s all good…”
- Try a walking meditation. I just started doing this only a few days ago, and I love it! Find a natural setting…maybe a trail, the woods, a creek…and walk for as long as you have the time for. Take the time to notice the noises around you and see the beauty that surrounds you. Notice the smells, the breeze, the temperature…whatever you see and hear, notice it and reflect on it. Don’t play any music. Let the sounds of nature be all that you need.
Hopefully these tips help get you started. Or if you’ve already been meditating for some time, maybe some of these tips will inspire you to try something new. I’d love to hear about your experiences!
There will be no post next week, as I will be traveling and most likely will not have the time to write anything worthy. So I will look forward to hearing from those of you who are willing to share your meditation experiences with me. Look for a new post in two weeks!