By Sabrina Marr
Think meditation is a mysterious, hard-to-master exercise? People assume that it's complicated and time-consuming, but it doesn't have to be. On the contrary, think of meditation as your “me time” a time to relax and restore not only your body but also your mind.
Don't get intimidated by the idea that you need to quiet your mind completely the first time. As in everything, including exercise, meditation is a process. You may not sit down and meditate like a guru the first time, but with practice and consistency, you will get more and more benefits and enjoy the meditation more and more. There are many ways to meditate, and whichever way works for you is the right way to do it. Yet, a few tips may help you get started.
Tips For A Successful Meditation
1. Get comfortable
Wear comfortable clothes, sit comfortably, and make sure the temperature in the room is pleasant and you are wearing the right clothes for it.
Especially if you decide to meditate in a cross-legged position, take the time to stretch your legs, so they won’t feel tight and crampy in the middle of your meditation. I recommend a short sequence including:
- butterfly with an upright spine and forward fold
- straddle with forward fold
- seated half hero one leg at a time
- side stretch in a cross-legged position (see photos)
3. Set a timer or an alarm
At least, in the beginning, set a timer so you won’t feel the temptation to open your eyes to see how long you have been sitting in your meditation. You can also create a little playlist with your favorite music for 5 to 10 minutes so when the music is over, you know it’s time to end your session. With time, you will be able to meditate without a timer and meditate as long as your mind is capable of staying quiet.
4. Start with your breathing
Breath awareness should be your main focus. It will help you become grounded, centered, and present. Start taking 3 deep breaths, going deeper on your inhale and slower on your exhale. You can inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose, or, if you need to release tension, exhale through the mouth. Then proceed to find a steady pace that you can keep throughout the meditation. Breathing should be your “safe haven”, the place you can go back to every time you get distracted by other thoughts.
5. Bring awareness to the present moment
The concept of “present” can be difficult to grasp. Start taking a slice of time somehow tangible to you as your “present”; for example during meditation, make the time that you are setting aside for your meditation, your “present”, and focus on thoughts and sensations pertaining to that moment. Inevitably, some other thoughts may come into your mind but with time and practice, you will be able to let go of the inner chatter. Deep breathing, soft and calming music, as well as essential oil diffusers, are excellent tools to bring awareness to the present moment.
Thoughts are totally normal and your mind can produce a huge amount of thoughts all the time. And that is ok. However, our mind has a tendency to find something to regret about the past and something to worry about in the future, leading us to a place of stress. Keeping those thoughts out of your mind for a moment will bring quiet and peace to your mind.
And this brings us to the question, WHY do we meditate?
Especially, in times like these, in which on top of our daily little worries, we have worldwide worries like the pandemic which is impacting our lives dramatically, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a fully positive attitude towards life. Our mind tends to surrender to a light form of anxiety which can get worse over time. Practicing mindfulness means that you are connecting to your mind and installing signs of positivity, calm, and hope. Sometimes, meditating could simply mean that you sit down for 10 minutes and listen to your favorite song, or you take a walk outside in nature. Or maybe, now that you read this article you may want to try meditating using these tools and see what happens. Once your mind achieves a state of happiness, endorphins are released and the entire body and mind benefit from the reactions that are happening to you.
Sabrina Marr is a certified RYT 500 and a passionate yoga instructor with diplomas from Zen Den Yoga School in Florida and the Yoga Foundation in India. Sabrina Marr grew up in the Swiss Alps and has been dedicated to a healthy lifestyle from and early age. As an elite athlete, competing in the Gymnastics World Championships, she focused on the physical, mental and emotional components needed to achieve the serenity to compete at the highest levels. Now she shares her knowledge with you.