Are You Prepared To Connect Through Meditation
Life has a way of moving fast and can seem incredibly crazy at times. The hectic pace and demands we face on a daily basis often leave us feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired and even unhappy. Meditation is about training your brain to bring your thoughts and feelings into awareness; it’s about examining who you are and your place in the world; it teaches you to appreciate every moment for what it is.
Meditation has been the most important habit I’ve formed, without question.
Meditation has helped me to form all my other habits; it’s helped me to become more peaceful, more focused, less worried about what’s to come, more appreciative and attentive to everything in my life. I’m certainly not perfect, but I know it has helped me develop in ways that I otherwise could not.
As I’ve continued to explore various approaches to meditation I’ve discovered how profound the benefits can be. The key to developing a successful meditation practice is finding the right fit for you. In order to figure out what kind of meditation works best for you, you’ll have to put a few types of meditation to the test (Transcendental Meditation (TM), Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM), Kundalini, Guided Visualization, Qi Gong, Zazen, Mindfulness, etc.) and try several tools so you can choose the practice that feels the most comfortable.
When I was new to meditation I remember feeling intimidated. The word meditation can immediately conjure images of Buddhist monks in saffron robes or new-age beatniks in clouds of incense — which isn’t necessarily untrue. But the reality is that meditation is much easier and accessible than most people realize.
So, I highly recommend this habit. And while I’m not saying it’s easy, you can start small and get better and better as you practice. Don’t expect to be good at first — that’s why it’s called “practice”!
These tips aren’t aimed at helping you to become an expert…they should help you get started and keep going. Please know that you don’t have to implement them all at once — try a few, come back to this article, try one or two more.
1. Find a comfortable, quiet place
Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. To get started, you can sit or lay down just ensure you are comfortable. You can sit cross-legged, on the floor, or on a chair. If you can sit erect, then great. If not, it’s just important to have your body in a somewhat stable position. Later you can worry about optimizing it so you’ll be comfortable for longer, but in the beginning it doesn’t matter much, just sit somewhere quiet and comfortable.
2. Become mindfully “present”
Become totally aware of your current surroundings. Check in with how you’re feeling. As you first settle into your meditation session, simply check to see how you’re feeling. How does your body feel? How does it feel to sit? What do you hear? Do you feel tension? Where are your thoughts? Know that whatever comes up in this meditation is completely acceptable.
3. Focus on your breath
Now that you’re settled in, turn your attention to your breath. As you take long and deep breaths, follow it through your nose all the way down to your belly (try to breathe through your nostrils, either your mouth or nostrils will work). Just place the attention on your breath as it comes in, and try counting to four as you take in the first breath, pause for a moment and then count to four again as you breathe out. Repeat this process for each breath cycle while keeping your tongue lightly pressed against the roof of your mouth.
4. Focus again when you wander
Don’t worry about clearing the mind. Meditation is not about clearing your mind or stopping all thoughts. This can sometimes happen, but it’s not the “goal” of meditation. Your mind will wander (this is an almost absolute certainty), when you notice your mind wandering, smile, and simply gently return your thoughts to your breath. If your mind continues to wander then try to take it a step further and hum “Om” as you breathe out. Just know that you might feel a little frustration, but that’s perfectly normal, it can be tough to stay focused, we all experience it. This is how you practice, and it will take time to get better at it.
Stay with whatever arises. When thoughts or feelings arise, and they will, you might try staying with them awhile. Yes, I know I said to return to the breath, but after you practice that for a week, you might also try staying with a thought or feeling that arises. We tend to want to avoid feelings like frustration, anger, anxiety…but an amazingly useful meditation practice is to stay with the feeling for awhile. Just stay, and be curious.
This practice isn’t just about focusing your attention, it’s about learning how your mind works and getting to know yourself. What’s going on inside there? It’s murky, but by watching your mind wander, getting frustrated and seeing that in some instances you avoid difficult feelings…you can begin to understand yourself. As you get to know yourself, do it with a loving attitude instead of one of criticism. You’re getting to know a best friend, yourself! So smile and give yourself some gentle love.
5. Exciting technology to help with your practice
There are individuals that blame technology for the stress, lack of connection, and anxiety. Technology overload has become one of the primary stressors in people’s lives. But there’s an amazing new trend happening with technology. Instead of technology being a source of anxiety or a stressor, there are applications that serve as a tool for stress relief.
This growing trend is allowing individuals to turn to these applications for guided meditations, positive affirmations, empowering content and stress relief tools — all for free.
Check out my top three favorite apps for helping you deepen your meditation practice.
Since meditation is such an incredible part of my centering, I’m a huge fan of Headspace. This app serves an incredible purpose as it makes meditation simple for those individuals who are new to the practice. The app contains easy tools to to help people stress less, focus more and even sleep better. I highly recommend this app to anyone who’s new ready to embark on the life-changing skills of meditation and mindfulness in just a few minutes a day.
This is a powerful app, also known as The Universe Talks, reminds us daily of life’s fundamental truths: that life is magical, we are powerful, and dreams really do come true.
This takes daily affirmations to a whole new level! The Notes are brief emails written by “The Universe,” personalized with your name (and occasionally your goals and dreams), designed to remind you that you have, indeed, been given dominion over all things.
This app guides you to adjust your breath to match the rhythm of your heartbeat. The Breathe Sync app helps you to feel more calm, focused and balanced.
Your breath and heartbeat are directly connected to your wellness and stress levels. By taking a few minutes each day with Breathe Sync, you can measure your well-being and stay in control.
When you’re finished with your meditation, smile. Be grateful that you had this time to yourself, that you stuck with your commitment, that you showed yourself that you’re trustworthy and that you took the time to get to know yourself and make friends with yourself. That’s an amazing gift to give yourself.
Meditation isn’t always easy or even peaceful, it is in fact hard work and it takes a lot of practice to get better. But just like training for a marathon or playing an instrument, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. It has truly amazing benefits and you can start right where you are and a happier outlook can be yours for the taking.
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