Meditation, let your eyes close, take a breath and just let go. This is easier said than done. Meditation is a lost art, something that we might think about but never get around to doing. When people think of meditation perhaps an image of the Shaolin Monks sitting cross leg comes to mind. You may think “that could never be me; I’m too busy for that”. Let’s put our busy schedule aside for a moment and talk about why everyone should make time for it.
We all (well most of us anyway) bathe regularly; we clean our bodies just about daily. Just as our body needs to be cleansed so does our mind. Think of meditation as a bath for the mind. Our head gets muddled with stress, friends, family and our own inner voice. Letting that perpetually build can take a toll on your sanity. The holidays are 100% busy and stressful. If there was ever a time to start a meditation practice this is it.
So what is meditation? Meditation is different for everyone. Being a yoga instructor, I have dedicated many hours to meditation and have made it a part of my life. From a yoga perspective, the practice of yoga and the movement you do in class is all preparation to unite the body and mind, and create a calm receptive state for meditation. However, traditional yoga meditation is not the only meditation! There are many, many schools and thoughts on meditation such as vipassana, visualization, kundalini and much more. Just like exercise, everyone likes something different.
To give meditation a try, just sit. Literally, start by sitting; find a way that is comfortable for you to sit. Cross your legs, sit on your shins or even find a comfortable couch or chair. Then begin to close your eyes, be an observer of your thoughts and the way your body feels. Once you are within yourself, try to let go. Let go of thoughts, stress, your to-do list and just be present. People new to meditation may not be able to go more than 5 seconds before the next thought slips back into their mind. If this happens to you, find a focus within your body, such as your inhalation and exhalation. Some people find it easier to focus by listening to the sounds of the environment or the sounds of their own body. It’s normal to feel impatient or agitated by sitting but don’t be discouraged. Practice makes perfect. Incorporate 5-10 minutes a day and work your way up from there. As you begin to practice more often you will slowly see a shift in your attitude and mind. With time, you may begin to notice feelings of mental calmness, less anxiety, more compassion and creativity throughout your daily activities. Allow the process to transform your mind. I encourage you to find a practice and style that is right for you!