Tired. Worn out. Over it. Beaten down. I have been there. Have you? Are you there right now? Have you ever felt like there is just too much going on around you to handle; like there is so much noise that you can’t think? It sounds to me like your soul needs a vacation. Just some time to rest. Lets talk about meditation.
Don’t roll your eyes! Yes, you do have time for it! With just 5 or 10 minutes, you can give yourself the greatest possible gift. You can give yourself a break. Meditation is the quickest, easiest way to rest and re-center your soul in times of stress…and a great way to maintain connection with yourself in times of joy. Prayer is when you talk to God and the universe. Meditation is when God and the universe talk to you. It is the settling of your soul and your mind.
“Meditation is a vital way to purify and quiet the mind, thus rejuvenating the body.” – Deepak Chopra
For the beginner, meditating can be a difficult and slightly confusing undertaking. You may even question whether you are doing it right. Relax. You can do this. Meditation is not about the amount of time you spend meditating, it is about the frequency. You wouldn’t expect to become a great marathon runner just by hitting the treadmill a few times. You need to be devoted to training and strengthening the appropriate muscles for something like that. Meditation is no different. Early on, it is about being dedicated to training yourself and strengthening the appropriate “muscles”; those of concentration, calm and insight. Here are 5 tips to get you going in the right direction:
1. Position – If you are sitting in a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor with your back straight. If you are sitting “indian style”, use a cushion to keep your knees below the level of your hips. Be comfortable! Relax your shoulders and arms. Put your hands on your thighs or let them rest in your lap.
2. Breathing – Don’t worry about trying to calm your mind. Instead try focusing on the sensation of your breathing. Savor the sensation. If your mind starts wandering, recognize that you are thinking and return your focus to the sensations of your breathing.
3. Eyes – Before starting, decide what you are going to do with your eyes; either closing them or keeping them open. If your goal is rest, introspection or body-based, close them. If you are trying to feel more comfortable or anchored in your space, keep them open.
4. Emotions – Long term meditators show increased size in brain regions associated with emotional regulation, leading to their ability to cultivate positive emotions, maintain emotional stability and engage in mindful behavior. Do not be surprised when the emotions come, because they will. Just acknowledge them and let them fade away as you focus on your breathing.
5. Mind – Do not worry about emptying your mind. That will come easier with experience. For now, just try to quiet your thoughts and focus on the sensations of your breathing.
Start out with 5 or 10 minutes every day. If you can swing the same time each day, great! If not, fine. Just find a quiet place to be and get started. It is worth it. You are worth it. The path to joy, happiness and a calm strong soul runs directly through meditation.
There are many excellent books on meditation and mindfulness, but two of my favorites are The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hans; and Wherever You Go There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn. These are both great reads and present information from two very different perspectives.
So keep your soul calm, serene and rested. Joy grows much faster in a well tended field than in a chaotic bramble.