On a daily basis our brain can feel like Grand Central Station with the millions of thoughts rushing through constantly and with all that going on, our mind has found ways to help us cope by enabling us to perform most tasks on autopilot. We are constantly thinking about the past or the future, so much so that we forget about the present. Although we’re constantly in the present our racing thoughts distract us in rather uncomfortable ways, if we’re being honest and it doesn’t have to be that way.
We all might have heard of meditation at some point but don’t quite know all of the benefits or even where to begin and in the end it just seems like another task on our never ending to-do list. In reality meditation can be the key towards feeling less rushed and overwhelmed by helping us:
a) Lower our stress levels
b) Improve our focus
c) Reduce all that brain chatter
With approximately 95% of our behaviors being run on autopilot, we need to practice meditation to regain control and start to function through intentional actions and willpower. However it’s important to remember that meditation isn’t a onetime cure-all and requires practice. Start by setting aside time or putting meditation reminders around you to make meditation a part of your everyday routine. However, to prevent it from simply becoming a habit and your brain going back on autopilot, try to change the routine every week. Next you can create a new pattern of thinking using, “If this, then that” to help make decisions more intentional. For example, “If leaving for work, then take a deep breath.”
So you’ve decided you’re willing to give meditation a chance and you’ve even purchased a yoga mat but you’re wondering how to actually sit and meditate. Here’s how to get started:
- Take a seat
Get comfortable in a space away from distractions, which feels calm and quiet. This can also be outside, away from the laundry machine and dishwasher that keeps calling your name.
- Become aware of your body
Make sure that you are in a comfortable position that would prevent you from having to shift our fidget, causing you to break focus.
- Set a time limit
This isn’t so much to make you feel rushed but rather to set a goal. Start with shorter times, such as 2 or 5 minutes and work your way up, as way to exercise your brain’s ability to focus.
- Focus on your breathing
Simply concentrate on the rhythm of your inhaling and exhaling and try to slow yourself down, making each breath deep and intentional.
- Clear your thoughts
Try to clear your mind of thoughts of future tasks or past regrets. Notice when your mind starts to wander away from the present and use that awareness to bring yourself back. Remember that it’s inevitable for your mind to wander, so don’t let it make you to feel frustrated, it will get better with practice.
- Finish feeling proud
When you’ve reached your goal time, return from your meditation slowly by taking in your surroundings. Pay attention to how your body and mind feel and enjoy the calmness. Even if you found your mind wondering more often than you would have liked, be kind to yourself and feel proud that you’ve taken a daily step towards a better you.