There is no way out of this one. As the outside world offers up one crazy serving after another, meditation is not only something that I highly recommend, but is a practice that many, including myself, deem necessary.
Read any self-help book about crushing goals, or overcoming obstacles, and each and every one of them at some point will tell you that meditation is key. If you want something new to show up in your life, you have to reorganize your thoughts, be aware of the thoughts that are not serving you, and be able to respond to life instead of simply react. A meditation practice gets you there.
Maybe you aren’t someone that is looking to crush goals or overcome obstacles, but simply want to live life without anxiety? Or you want to feel grounded in what is happening while it is happening? Maybe you have a tough time making decisions? Or, once you make a decision, you doubt your choices? Then, yes, the answer is still meditation.
A daily meditation practice helps you tune into your deeper knowing. If you never tune in, you will always be tuned out.
Have you ever looked at another person’s life and thought, “How do they have everything so together? They must be lucky, or rich, or blessed in some way that I am not.” You are just as lucky, rich, and blessed, but you have not taken the time to tap into those facets of yourself. That totally together person? They meditate.
So, here are my top three tips to start your meditation practice and keep it going day after day, year after year:
- Just Let the Crazy In. Often when we begin to meditate we have this notion of “clearing our thoughts.” I am here to tell you to stop thinking that is what the goal of meditation is because it will never happen. Your mind is a problem-solving tool. It doesn’t shut off on command. It’s ready and willing to get to work whenever you bring up a thought that seems unresolved. When you first start meditating all sorts of things are going to come up. All you have to do is be aware of what you are thinking. Let all of the crazy in, so you can understand what your mind brings up on a daily basis. You might be surprised that you start thinking about a bad relationship that happened years ago, or how anxious you are about an upcoming meeting. Just sit with it and notice. That is more than most people in the world will ever do. That’s why everything seems so crazy in the outside world. We are crazy. When you are aware of your thoughts you become powerful. Why? Because you have the power to change them. If you don’t know what you are thinking, are not truly aware, where would you even start?
- Get in the Gap. This is a technique that Wayne Dyer used to teach and was one of the first meditation techniques that worked for me. The premise is to think of a word, such as, “Love,” or “Peace,” or “Abundance,” and silently repeat it to yourself like a mantra. As you meditate on the word, start to slow it down in your mind. As it slows down, notice the gap between the word ending in your mind and the word beginning. Let your mind rest in the gap. Just try it. You have to experience this one to completely get it. But, there will be a moment where you feel connected and clear. I still use this one today when my mind is too busy and needs a break.
- Breathe Baby Breathe. The mind can only truly concentrate on one thing at a time. So, if you focus on your breath, truly focus, you cannot be thinking about other things. That’s why yoga teachers and meditation guides are always telling you to focus on your breath. It keeps you in the present moment. But, how do you follow your breath? I like to whittle it down to the tiniest awareness. First, focus on the sound of the breath. Then if a thought pops up, refocus on the sound of your breath. Once you’ve been there for a while take it to a new space by focusing on the feeling of the breath. Notice how your lungs move, notice the way the air hits your nostrils. Be completely absorbed in the feelings. If a thought pops up again, know it’s normal, say, “Thank you, but not now,” and then go back to listening and feeling the breath. From there, start to notice the tiniest tickle of the breath across your upper lip. It’s a good small space to focus on. See if you can stay there for a good long while. Enjoy.
The best way to meditate is to keep it simple. Set a timer. Start with five minutes and work your way up bit by bit to ten. From ten minutes, twenty doesn’t feel like too much longer. And, from my experience, ten minutes is how long it takes for me to be in it, where the thoughts aren’t so speedy, but have calmed down to a nice slow pace where I can notice them and release them.
*Pro tip: You might want to keep a journal next to you. I find that my most creative ideas come when I am in meditation. Jot it down. It’s like a good dream sometimes and easy to forget, so it’s good to have a space to keep your thoughts and ideas from your seated time.
Hope this helps on the Mat Tribe! What is your favorite way to meditate? Do you have a tip you’d like to share with everyone? The best discussions happen on the Facebook Page. Join us there.
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