What do you think of when you think of the word meditation? Do you picture a robed guru sitting on a mountaintop with his knees crossed in front of him, long hair blowing in the wind and face toward the sky? Yeah, me too! At least I used to.
I most certainly never pictured myself, a wife and busy mother of three, finding the time to meditate on top of all my other responsibilities. For many of you, I imagine there are few things you’d like to do less in the world than sit quietly by yourself. You are busy. You have things to do. How could you possibly find the time to sit quietly and be alone with your thoughts and, more importantly, why would you want to?
Because meditation is single handedly one of the most important gifts you can give to yourself. And the best part is, it can be done in hundreds, even thousands of ways. You can meditate with music, with movement, with breath, seated, lying down, standing on your head. The possibilities are endless. But essentially, meditation is the intentional choice to sit silently with yourself for a period of time and to allow your mind to do its thing without trying to turn it off or run away from it.
There are so many ways to meditate that it will take some time to figure out which one is right for you. The most important thing to remember is that when you choose to incorporate meditation into your life, you’re not taking the easy way out. You’re making an agreement with yourself to take the longer, sometimes more challenging road towards getting control of your mind. I’m sure many of you are convinced that you just can’t meditate. Trust me, I felt the same way at first, too. It’s exhausting to sit with yourself. It’s time consuming. It’s HARD! But the path to meditation does not need to be painful and, in fact, it should be one of joy and awakening.
My path to meditation was slow and, like all things in life a positive outcome takes work.
Here is how I began -
- Sit in a chair or a bed either first thing in the morning or before I went to bed at night.
- Set a timer and breathe.
Focus on a mantra or phrase that brought my peace or simply observe my breath going in and out. When a thought comes to mind, try not to judge it. Just let it pass by and return to your breath or phrase
With that advice in hand, I gave it a try. At first, all I could handle was two minutes before my mind would inevitably start listing all the things I needed to do for the day. After a few weeks, I worked up to four minutes, and eventually six minutes and finally ten. This trick was that I never missed a day
. No matter what I had going on or how much I wanted to just get up and start my day or roll over and sleep, I kept at it.
It did not come naturally to me and I had to work hard at it. It took me years to work my way up to a twenty minute practice, but I could not deny that I was feeling peaceful more often. I found that I could use this technique throughout the day and not just in the morning or night. When doubt, fear or worry would rise up, I allowed them to pass by without believing the stories they tried to tell.
But don't take it just from me, here are some scientific benefits I have found: