Few things seem quite so shrouded in mystery as meditation. You might even envision perching on a rock at the top of a misty mountain to be a prerequisite for meditating. As it turns out, meditation is way more accessible for us mere mortals. The key to meditation is realizing it is a practice, which means it takes, you guessed it, practice! And the idea that your mind will reach utter blankness and pure silence? Nope. Meditation is more the art of noticing your mind, allowing yourself a front row seat to watch a parade of thoughts, impulses, and emotions march by instead of stopping and engaging with each one. Over time, this helps us create a healthy distance between our thoughts, emotions, and the stories we tell ourselves that can wreak havoc on our relationships with ourselves, others, and the world. Not to mention the tremendous amount of energy it takes to engage with every single thought that flies through our harried brains! Meditation has many benefits, like reducing stress, improving sleep, and freeing up more of your energy for the things you actually care about. These 4 tips make meditating feel more approachable, setting you up for success in creating the head and heart space you deserve and feeling more energized in the process.
Start small. A common mistake people make is going from the crazy noise of modern life to forcing themselves to sit for 15 minutes, expecting no less than total mental silence and transcendence. Yikes, talk about pressure and stress. Instead, try meditating daily for five minutes, increasing time as you go. Our minds are used to wandering, flitting about between a schedule conflict, a brilliant idea, and what you have in the fridge for dinner tonight. Starting small helps us bring our awareness to our thoughts in short increments of time, allowing us to build on our progress.
Head outside. If the tick of your air conditioning unit or the squeals of your toddler are, ahem, less than ideal for enlightenment, head outside. Tuning in to the sounds of birds chirping, the breeze, and the sensation of grass under your feet help you connect to the world around you so you can take a figurative step back from the constant stream of your own thoughts. Connecting to nature, even if it’s just to the potted tomato plant on your 3rd story apartment patio, means you’re making space to relate to the larger world and adjusting the volume of your own thoughts, concerns, and stress. Spending time in nature can also help to rejuvenate and revitalize us. Some even consider it “fuel for the soul.”
Try a guided meditation. Yep, there's an app for that! If you struggle to marshal your thoughts while meditating, give a guided meditation app a try! Many are free and they are incredibly helpful in reducing the pressure to be a perfect meditator and encouraging you to practice daily. If you struggle with falling asleep, anxiety, or just need a refresh, choose a specific guided meditation to help you focus. By finding calm and feeling centered, the quality of your rest can greatly improve giving you more energy to devote toward what matters most.
Switch up the time of day to see what works best for you. Not everyone can stay awake to meditate at the crack of dawn… and that is completely okay. One of the main purposes of meditation is to respect our own rhythms and to become more attuned to ourselves and our environment. Experiment with different times of the day to find what works best for your mind and body. When you find what works for you, you’ll know you are nailing this whole meditation thing.