By Liz Reddinger
There’s a common misconception that anyone who meditates must either be a monk or a recluse, and in order to meditate you have to sit in an uncomfortable position for hours upon hours in the blazing hot sun with flies swarming all around your head. Meditation is cast as something for only the deeply religious, spiritual types that wear Jesus sandals, shave their heads and read Buddha’s teachings for fun.
I don’t own Jesus sandals (though they do look comfortable), if I sit cross-legged for more than 5 minutes my booty hurts and my legs fall asleep, I’m not religious, I admire Buddha but would rather watch The Client List on Lifetime after a long day at work, and I have a full head of hair, but I meditate on a daily basis and can say with complete honesty that it’s a habit that has greatly impacted my life.
Meditation is the easiest and most accessible habit you can begin to implement into your daily routine that will yield more positive outcomes than you could ever begin to imagine. If you commit to setting aside at least ten minutes every day to focus on your breath and quiet your mind, you will begin to see the world through a calmer, more positive and more grateful lens. You will feel grounded and focused. You will see new solutions to long-standing problems because you’re no longer approaching them with a muddled, crowded brain. You will radiate love and positivity, and in turn, attract the same.
If that doesn’t convince you, let me remind you that it’s free, and the only requirement is that you sit on your behind. Ready now? If so, here are a few tips to get you started.
Choose between solo or guided meditation.
There are many different ways to meditate. The most basic meditation is to focus on taking deep breaths. You can quiet your mind entirely, or silently repeat a mantra, such as “I am love”, to help focus your attention and connect with a greater vision.
If going it alone feels intimidating or scary, however, there are also meditation recordings available where you can listen to soothing music/sounds and have someone guide you the whole way through. Experiment with both and see what works best for you. The Chopra Center often has 21-day meditation challenges where you can sign up and have a free, daily meditation e-mailed to your inbox. You can also download free podcasts on iTunes from TheMeditationPodcast.com.
Choose a time.
There is no right or wrong time to meditate. You have to experiment to find when is the most effective time for you. Some prefer to meditate in the morning so they benefit from the effects throughout the day. Others prefer to meditate midday when they are most prone to stress. Many choose to benefit from meditation’s calming impact at night to aid sleeping problems and promote a deep sleep. You may not have the luxury to choose and find yourself meditating whenever you have a few spare moments. The important thing is you commit to it everyday.
Find a quiet space and get comfortable.
The next step is to find a safe, comfortable space where you won’t be bothered. Make sure to turn your cell phone off. When choosing how to position your body, comfort is the only requirement: you can sit with your legs crossed, with your feet on the ground and your hands on your knees, or you can even lay down if you’re sure you won’t drift off.
Let thoughts pass through you.
The more you try to resist your thoughts, the more likely they will persist. It’s like being told not to think about the pink elephant in the room; of course you’re going to think about it once it’s been pointed out to you. Don’t feel frustrated when thoughts pop into your head. Rather, recognize that it’s normal, and don’t attach yourself to any of them. Envision your mind is a river and the thoughts are floating by and passing through.
Keep at it.
New habits never come easily or stick right away. You will feel the real impact of meditation when you fully commit and make it a daily habit. It’s normal for the first few times you meditate to lead to frustration or produce little impact due to distracting thoughts — accept that it’s part of the process, and keep practicing. The more you do it, the more you will benefit from its life-changing impacts.