Meditation has been around for centuries so why does it feel so intimidating to start a practice? Let’s break it down. Meditation is reflection. The purpose is to find some space to process the feelings that are pushed aside in the chaos of our day to day lives. Reflection is noticing the worries on the mind rather than a call to action to solve them. Taking this time to check in with yourself will pay off later. Consistent meditation leads to the ability to take a beat when making decisions instead of just reacting.
Often, meditation conjures up images of sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat, with a scented candle and fingers in the OM position. This is one way for meditation to look. Any form of being mindful for a period of time is meditation. Taking the pressure off of getting meditation “right” helps to get the most out of it.
So, when it comes to focus, first try not to focus. How? Well, we are creatures that are constantly assessing our bodies’ needs and changes in the environment around us. Meditation is not meant to go against these tendencies rather meditation leans into them. Paying attention to yourself and your environment such as noting if your ankle hurts, if a car alarm is going off outside, or if the smell of burnt toast hangs in the air is all a part of transitioning into a different mindset.
The meditation mindset means being in the present moment. This isn’t the time to think. This is the time to be. Many practitioners of meditation will “anchor” themselves in their breath. By counting inspirations and expirations, you are setting your mindset to pay attention to your natural rhythms and what is happening in the now. That’s it, that’s meditating!
Taking the time to sit with yourself without any agenda leads to the ability to come at the issues that you need to get a handle on with more clarity and maybe even a new perspective.
Let’s face it. We live in a world filled with a lot of distractions. Fortunately, the phones and computers that can be the source of these distractions can also have the resources to aid in meditation. A number of apps and websites have been developed that will take beginners through a series of exercises to build up their meditation muscle memory.
The good news is that with guided meditation there is a voice to listen to with instructions on what to do. You don’t have to worry about doing it wrong. The guide will encourage you to clench and unclench muscles or breathe deeply or walk down the “garden path” in the visualisation they are describing, depending on the meditation you choose. Your mind will wander and that is what it was built to do. That wandering is expected and your guide will encourage you to make a note of it and invite you to come on back to the exercise.
Customise Your Meditation
Set yourself up for success. This means meditating at the same time everyday so it becomes a habit. Choose the time of day when you have the time and you feel alert. If you are always running out the door in the morning, this is not the time to squeeze in a practice. If the commute on the subway is your only window, that’s okay.
Pick a practice that feels good to you. Would an app that holds you accountable by tracking your streak of days meditating appeal to you? Or would a website with a guided story about lying on the beach be more your style? Maybe just a walk in the neighbourhood noticing the feel of the wind and the scent of the flowers is your version of being mindful. It may take a few tries to find the right fit for you. Explore!
Practice makes the Perfect Practice
Just like with any new skill, patience with yourself is imperative. It is hard at first to be in the moment and not have your thoughts racing ahead to what’s for dinner or how you are going to make your deadline. The point is to take even just a minute every day to do a self-check. “Be” in the moment for a moment. Everything else will still be there when you are ready to conquer the world.
Nicole Klett is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach located in the United States. She is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and has worked with hundreds of clients to reach their health goals. She is also a writer who enjoys topics that are related to self-care whether that be sharing tips for healthier eating or for the next book or movie to check out.