When we think of being healthy, we tend to focus on just our muscles, weight and how ‘in shape’ we are. We don’t always think of our bodies holistically — as a single physical, emotional, and spiritual being. While it may not work for everyone, meditation can help lower stress, improve mental health, and increase overall wellbeing.
Even if you think it won’t be your cup of tea, it can’t hurt to give it a try! Here are some basics to help you get started.
Get In The Right Space
First, you need a literal space to meditate. You’ll want a soft cushion, chair, mat, patch of grass, something comfortable to sit on for an extended period of time. You also want to make sure you’re not going to be constantly distracted. Try to get away from noise and distractions, whether that means going out into the forest or just closing your bedroom door for a while. You also want to get in the right headspace: remember why you’re doing this and try to be consistent about it. Don’t worry about doing it right or getting something specific out of it.
Keep in Touch with Your Body
You want to keep your back straight to avoid slumping–not only because it can cloud your mind with negative thoughts and energy, but because it’s bad for your back. Don’t worry about what your hands are doing or if you’re folded lotus style like a monk. Do what feels right and natural. Breathe deeply, but don’t get hung up on trying to breathe in a certain way. This is about relaxing and unwinding!
Let It Go
You may be tempted to try to completely clear your mind of all thoughts, but let’s be real: that’s pretty hard to do. Instead, try to let your racing thoughts and busy mind float by. If you find yourself fixating on what you’re going to make for dinner, the big project you’re working on, that embarrassing thing you did in eighth grade, let yourself think about it for a moment. Really allow yourself to be with it, and then let it float away. When your mind starts to wander more randomly, try to focus back on your breathing.
Take it Step by Step
You won’t immediately be a champ, so don’t get disheartened. Start with a few minutes (10 to 15) a day, and increase as you get more comfortable and practiced at keeping your mind unfocused. Remember it’s always better to meditate for 5 minutes every day than an hour once a week.
Keep it up
The other most important aspects of a successful meditation practice are consistency and kindness. If you fall out of the habit, don’t despair. Get back on the horse when and how you can and be kind to yourself. Adjust your space, your time spent, etc. as you find what does and doesn’t work for you, and you’ll be on your way to a more productive, more focused, less stressed life!