By: Heather Bien
We’ve all heard it before––we should be meditating. It might be on our daily to-do lists, another priority we hope we’ll get around to, but we just never manage to cross it off. How can something as simple as sitting without thinking be so hard?!
Well, the great thing about meditation is there’s no barrier to entry. Anyone can do it. There’s no grading system to determine whether you’re doing it correctly. If you get off track today, you can try again tomorrow. And, once you make it a habit, the benefits are endless.
Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, helps you focus, and gives you control over creating a moment of intention in the chaos of a busy day. When you’re staring at a never-ending inbox of unread emails and a growing pile of laundry, meditation is the anchor that will help you infuse calm back into your mindset.
So, how do you go about building a meditation practice as a beginner? First of all, don’t get frustrated. Meditation sounds easy, but it takes commitment. Clearing your mind can be intimidating. Don’t go too hard on yourself if you find your mind wandering to this evening’s grocery list. Simply let the thoughts pass. If it’s not happening today, move on and get back to it the next day.
Look into the many meditation apps that are available. Headspace and Calm are two that have huge followings. You can pick guided meditations ranging from someone walking you through a body scan to a voice leading you through a serene visualization. Others get you started and then leave you in silence until the meditation begins to wrap up. Try a few different options and see what works for you.
Start small. That might be 10 minutes––or it might be 3. Do what will fit into your schedule on a daily basis. A 30-minute meditation may sound blissful, but if all you have is 5 minutes between conference calls, do it.
Make meditation into a routine. Think of it like brushing your teeth or making your morning coffee. Find your spot, maybe it’s in bed or sitting in front of a big window, light a designated candle that puts you in the right mindspace, and choose a calming soundtrack. These cues will remind your mind and body that it’s time to slow down and find a moment of mindfulness.
Sit comfortably. Perhaps you’ll sit propped up on a blanket to help straighten your spine or find a yoga position such as lotus. You want to be comfortable, but you should also be aware of your body and your posture. Your body is what allows you to find this practice, so make sure it is aligned from head to toe.
Focus on your breath. When you focus on your breath, you don’t allow room for thoughts to wander in and out. Of course, it’s not always possible to stop thinking about dinner plans or overdue thank you notes, but, whenever those nagging thoughts creep in, just return to your breath. In and out. This is where a guided app can be an awesome help!
Whatever you do, make it consistent. The best way to build a practice is to just do it. You’ve probably heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Think about meditation as a habit. Every day, just do it. 21 days later, it will be as important a part of your daily routine as putting on your shoes. Is it going to be perfect every day? No! But, that’s fine. It’s the intention around creating mindfulness that will leave you feeling calm, focused, and thankful that you’ve made the time and space for meditation.