Meditation is a mindful process and just another piece to overall wellness. We like to think of health as a whole, not just individual pieces. There are many aspects that go in to overall health, and none are less important than another because they all are connected. Part of our health and wellness coaching discusses Meditation and Yoga and the impact it can have on your health.
Meditation isn’t easy in the beginning. If it was, everyone would be doing it and we’d all be happier, healthier, slightly saner people. My first attempt at meditation went a little something like this…
About a minute into the guided meditation, I began sweating and felt like I was on fire—this from just sitting still. As my body temperature began to rise, my brain started spewing thoughts uncontrollably. I felt like I was miserably failing meditation, which continued the complete loss of concentration. This went on for five minutes, the entire time, I wanted to get up and run out of the room.
I thought I had to silence my mind and my mind fought it the entire way. What I didn’t realize that first night was that I was missing the point. The noise doesn’t quiet down; it’s all about how you deal with it. When you learn to not engage with your thoughts, you find stillness in your mind, your breath, and your body.
Sounds nice, right? So how do you get there? Start small. I can’t stress that enough. If you go into meditation thinking you’re going to be sitting down for a half hour in a state of bliss, well, that’s probably not going to happen. In the beginning, five minutes will likely feel like an eternity. Start with three and see how it feels.
There are several different types of meditation, but I found in the beginning it was incredibly helpful to have a guided meditation practice. There are plenty available online. There are even apps you can purchase for your phone that will walk you through a meditation. Another popular technique is to focus on your breathing.
- If you have a yoga practice, it helps to meditate after yoga. (That is the point of yoga, after all; it prepares the body for meditation.)
- Find a comfortable place to sit. You can sit upright in a chair with your feet grounded on the floor or you can sit cross-legged on the floor. If you decide to sit on the floor, it could help to sit up on a pillow or a rolled blanket to elevate your hips.
- Once you’re seated comfortably, close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale. Sit up tall. Picture warm water running from the center of your head and slowing washing over your body. Let each muscle slowly relax and as you picture the water running over it.
- Softly focus on your breath. As thoughts come up, don’t engage with them. Acknowledge them and then let them go. Imagine they are a parade and you’re just watching them go by. If you get attached to one, notice it, then let go and refocus on your breath.
- You want to move as little as possible during your meditation so your mind doesn’t get distracted. Notice if you get frustrated or uncomfortable at any point. This is normal. Just like your thoughts, let the emotions come and go without attaching to them. If you get lost, it’s okay, just remember to come back to your breath once you notice your mind has wandered.
Remember, this is the practice. And you have to practice at anything to get better at it. Your mind will never be completely empty. If you’re having a hard time getting started because your mind is so busy, try starting your meditation when you are the calmest. If that is in the morning before the day begins, try then. Some people do better after they have tackled the events and can let it all go, so maybe the afternoon or evening is best for them.
As you practice this more and more, you’ll start to apply the letting go to your daily life. If you get frustrated at work or mad in traffic, life’s little annoyances will be easier and easier to let go of. Eventually, you will learn how to engage less and less with your thoughts and just notice them. Slowly increase the length of your meditation and you’ll notice that sitting still with your thoughts gets a little easier each time.