I’m sure I’m not the only one who often feels overwhelmed, distracted and stressed-out with daily life. Even without the additional emotional stressors of dealing with a loved one who struggles with addiction, we are also inundated with stimulation on a daily basis. Most of our experience does not require much self-control or patience. So it’s only natural that we seek a quick fix to whatever ails us, including our mental and emotional state.
Meditation has been gaining popularity in the past few years, and it’s now something that’s becoming fairly mainstream. People are recognizing, studying and experiencing the wide variety of benefits that stem from a regular meditation practice.
What most of us don’t realize is that we are all already meditating every single day. What we need to UN-learn are the habits of multi-tasking, busy-ness, and inattention.
Oops. Western culture has things a bit backwards in this regard. Meditation is NOT a fix for stress and busyness. But steady practice and awareness can help us to UN-learn the habits that are contributing to mindlessness.
Much of the time, our thoughts are either future-oriented or past-oriented, which is why we don’t necessarily feel in a calm, centered state. Our minds are made to think, so we’re not trying to ‘empty’ our minds, rather simply observe what’s rolling around in there. Mindfulness meditation works best when our thoughts can focus on what’s happening right now, so naturally, our meditation practice begins by finding a way to notice just ONE moment at a time.
Below are a few useful suggestions for beginning a meditation practice. Try a few and see what works, what does not, what resonates with you most.
1.) Start with 3-5 minutes of gentle observation. Set a timer, sit comfortably (be sure to get super comfy so that your body is not a distraction) and close your eyes, if that feels okay for you. Without any agenda, just see what you can notice here. You might pay attention to the way your body feels, to the feeling of your breath traveling in and out, or perhaps to a sound you can hear. Just try tapping in to your senses without any expectations. Even if it’s a challenge, be kind to yourself. Every moment of present observation is a success!
2.) Try an app. Though in many ways, technology is designed to interrupt and interfere with our train of thought, there are tons of useful meditation apps that can help you explore and establish a practice. I really enjoy the Breathe app guided meditations, but there’s lots of free options to try.
3.) Use your voice with mantra meditation. The word mantra means ‘that which protects the mind.’ Mantras can be spoken out loud or repeated internally as a way to not only keep your mind focused, but to seal in the energy of the words you are repeating. If you’d like to use words to help you in your practice, check out this post with my suggestions on How to Create Mantras & Affirmations.
3.) Know your learning style. Are you a hands-on learner? Then a more physical style of meditation, such as gentle yoga, might be a great place for you to begin. Visual? Try a simple eye-gazing meditation by watching something in nature, such as the wind in the trees or a moving stream. Creative? Consider mandala meditation, knitting, or the super popular adult coloring books! Know that a simple, quiet activity can be used as a powerful way to become present.
4.) Seek a friend or mentor for accountability. As with any new habit, it can be challenging to start all on your own. There’s really something to be said for group energy and focus. Whether you are able to practice together or not, you can share your experience, seek suggestions, and surely learn something new together.
One thing I like to stress is to not try to force your meditation practice, especially at first. If your mind is already busy and bustling, it will probably be more useful to blow off some steam another way (taking a brisk walk, dancing, talking to a friend…etc) before trying to practice meditation. However you choose to begin, the most important part is simply doing it.
Rosslyn Kemerer is a yoga sharer, graphic designer, nature-lover and mentor to fellow entrepreneurs. She uses yoga along with her own brainstorming techniques and enthusiasm to inspire her students to step boldly after the pursuit of their dreams.
Rosslyn loves bringing her creativity in to private sessions with an eclectic mixture of yoga movement and philosophy, energy healing, Traditional Chinese Medicine, discussion and life-coaching techniques.
"Together, we uncover the layers to reveal the body as a metaphor for healing. My goal is always to leave you feeling empowered, inspired, and motivated to live wholeheartedly."