There are several things in life that I always swear I’m going to do more of. I’m going to do more healthy eating; I’m going to walk/run more; I’m going to get up earlier more often, etc. Another thing: meditation.
Meditation is something I learned in probably 8th grade. Our religion teacher would have us all sit in any sort of comfortable position in the classroom, she’d put on a gentle musical track behind us, and she’d be our guide, reading off what I can only assume was a book, taking us into this magical world of meditation. Despite that, meditation does not have to be a religious experience. Anyone can meditate, and it won’t cost you a dime. It’s a small, simple way to take a few minutes of your day, clear your mind and relax.
It’s easy in the world today to get so caught up in everything. Meditation is my way of escaping from all of that, even just for five minutes each day. I focus on my breathing, I focus on my senses, and I focus on doing absolutely nothing except relaxing.
There are many studies out there that have proven the various health benefits of meditation. Huffington Post had a 2013 article where they outlined some of the benefits; here’s another article, and there’s also been studies by Harvard scientists that have proven that meditation is beneficial to your health. It can have impacts in many psychological areas, including relieving stress and helping with things such as anxiety, addiction and depression.
I think the greatest thing about meditation is that literally anyone can do it, and there are so many WAYS to do it that even if everyone has their own preferences, there’s so many options. Sitting or laying down; music or not; guided or not; outside, inside. Alone or with a partner or a group. When you’re feeling stressed, angry, sad, or happy. In the darks, in light, in the midst of a planetarium…. any time, anywhere, for anyone. Meditation is a great tool to have in your toolbox for stress relief and a healthy, positive attitude towards life.
There are plenty of books, websites and videos out there that can help you learn how to meditate. It may not be easy at first – how the HECK can you sit still for five or ten minutes when there’s so much to do?! But you can do it. Below are just a few tips that I’d like to offer anyone who is willing to try meditation.
1. Don’t look at the time. No, seriously, I mean it. This is incredibly difficult. Sometimes, I find myself distracted while meditating and then I start thinking “How long have my eyes been closed? A minute? Five?” Allow yourself to let that go, and focus on your breathing and relaxing rather than thinking about the time. You can set a (gentle) timer before you enter your meditation mode, or use a guided video or song that is a specific length, and allow yourself to go through that entire video or audio session without interruption.
2. Seclude yourself. There are few things worse than being right in the middle of a peaceful meditation when someone starts yelling your name. Allow yourself to be in seclusion while you’re meditating. Close the door, turn off your cell phone, and remove yourself from distractions. If there’s any chance someone may interrupt you, politely make them aware of what you’re doing and that you’d like a few moments of peace and quiet.
3. Try different things. Don’t be afraid to try different kinds of meditation to see what you enjoy or what brings you peace the most. Maybe you like the breeze of fresh air from meditating outside. Maybe you’d enjoy a guided meditation under the stars of a planetarium (seriously, it’s pretty neat.) Perhaps you’re able to find your quiet place regardless of where you are. Don’t be scared to experiment with different methods and places of meditation.
4. Do it often, not just when you’re stressed. This could actually go for a lot of things in life; for instance, go to the doctor, not just when you’re sick, but for healthy checkups too. Don’t meditate ONLY when you are stressed or angry or sad. Do it when you feel good and positive, too. It will only make you feel even better, and it’ll allow you to hone your meditation techniques and know what’s comfortable for you.
5. Lastly: Don’t think, just do. It’s very difficult sometimes to let things go in meditation. I sometimes find myself distracted and thinking of the time, or what I’m going to do next, the tasks I have to accomplish, etc. etc. But you have to let all of that go in meditation. For someone who’s distracted like that as I am, I find that music and guided meditations help. I’m able to focus on the music or the instructions I’m being given, and focusing on that doesn’t allow any of those other things to bother me.
I hope anyone reading this will consider giving meditation a try. It’s truly a wonderful tool to have and I recommend using it as often as you can to help you lead a happy, healthy, positive life!