It all started when I returned home from Canyon Ranch after a retreat with Dove a few months ago. Always one to embrace my inner zen, but not someone whose natural state is zen, I signed up for an “intro to meditation” session simply out of curiosity.
Well, it changed my life. Meditation is something very real that’s making a significant difference in my daily life, and it can do the same for you.
If you’re a skeptic, let me ask you a few questions as you manage your business: Are you overwhelmed? Are you stressed? Do you currently have too much on your plate? Are you easily agitated? Does life ever seem a lot like Groundhog Day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should meditate. Yup, you should.
I won’t give you the scientific jargon, but studies show that meditation actually makes you CALMER and HAPPIER (study was performed by Jon Kabat-Zinn amongst stressed-out employees of a high-tech firm).
So, here’s what you need to know about meditation – there is no single way to do it, no right or wrong way to do it. Today, I’m giving you the 411 and the 101 of meditating for you to try. This is a combination of tips from me and from experts, so please try what feels right for you.
One more thing: when you first start meditating, it WILL feel weird. Kind of like a waste of time. Why sit there and think about nothing? You might even get annoyed. May I say, stick with it anyhow. It gets better.
Here we go:
How to Meditate In 9 Simple Steps
1. Commit to 5–30 minutes a day. To begin, start with 5 minutes. Most people find 15 minutes optimal, but literally 5 minutes of meditation is beneficial. As for how often, it is said that meditation should be aimed for daily, like brushing your teeth. I don’t meditate daily, but I probably should.
2. Eliminate distractions. Choose a time in your day where you have the least amount of distraction. Maybe it’s in the early morning. Maybe it’s lunchtime. For me, it’s before bed when I am actually lying in my bed. I find my favourite time is actually when I’m on a plane!
3. Relax and get comfortable. Some like to stretch before meditation, as it loosens the body and helps you relax. Remember, if you are a beginner like me, it’s hard to sit still, so stretching and relaxing gets your mind in the zone.
4. Choose your position. As for your position, whether lying down, or sitting up – that is a personal choice. Some like to sit, some like to lie down. The only rule is that you should be comfortable (with a straight spine, and not slouching). If you are sitting, relax and rest your hands on your lap. You can sit on the floor cross-legged with the support of a cushion or on a chair with your feet resting on the ground. It’s not necessary to force yourself into a lotus position if you’re not comfortable.
5. Focus your mind. Be prepared for your mind to wander. The key in meditation is to keep your mind ON THE PRESENT MOMENT, and not in the past, nor on what you have to do in an hour. This is your time to be still, to relax, and to literally heal yourself. Once you’ve chosen the optimal time and are comfortable and relaxed, you will be ready to focus your mind on your breath. You can meditate with your eyes open or closed. That is a personal choice. Sometimes listening to relaxing music can help in meditation. If you like meditating with music, then go ahead. There are many CDs you can buy. I actually purchased a few on iTunes.
6. Breathe slowly and deeply. Close your eyes softly. Begin by taking a few slow and deep breaths – inhaling through your nose and exhaling from your mouth. Don’t force your breathing. Let it come naturally. The first few intakes of air are likely to be shallow, but as you allow more air to fill your lungs each time, your breaths will gradually become deeper and fuller. Take as long as you need to breathe slowly and deeply. When you are breathing deeply, you will begin to feel calmer and more relaxed.
7. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing. If your mind wanders, know that this is NORMAL, and gently try and bring it back to the now, to your breathing. Your mind may wander as often as every 5 seconds. That’s totally okay. As you meditate more often, your mind will wander less, and your body and mind will truly relax. My mind still wanders almost every time. It’s hard to sit still and focus on your breath, but make that gentle conscious effort to bring your mind back to the moment. That is what meditation actually is – bringing your awareness back to what you’re doing. On a side note, if you are falling asleep, consider changing positions (from lying down to sitting up).
8. Ending your meditation. When you are ready to end your meditation, open your eyes and stand up slowly. Good job. You did it!
9. Practice makes perfect. It’s not a race. Maybe you can only meditate for 3 minutes now. With time, you’ll increase your time, therefore increasing all the benefits you will experience from meditation.
As a multi-tasking, busy career woman, entrepreneur and mom, it has made all the difference for me.
I’d love to know, do you meditate? Would you try meditation after reading this post?