Though most of us have an idea of what meditation is, not all of us know how much meditation can help us in our daily lives. I know that can seem like a great idea at first, but when you find yourself sitting on a floor in silence by yourself, feeling silly, trying to clear your mind and feeling like a failure when you can’t escape your own thoughts…meditation can become frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be!
Meditation has brought more balance, clarity and peace to my life. I meditate every morning and most evenings, for about 15 minutes each time. Not only does meditation leave me feeling grounded and centered, but it sets the tone for the rest of my day. I use meditation for different things, depending on how I’m feeling or what I’m going through.
1. To Be Present
Meditation can be a great tool to simply be. So much of the time we are always doing: planning the future, thinking about the past, running around trying to get things done. We’re rarely fully preset. However, with meditation you allow yourself to just be: no expectations, no tasks, no requirements. Just to simply be. Be here now is a great mantra to use during meditation or in life in general. To be here now, in this moment, noticing life and what it is to be alive. This is what my twice daily meditation sessions usually consist of, unless I have other things I’d like to address.
2. To Feel Your Feelings
When I discovered using meditation as a means to feel my feelings, my life radically changed. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry, conflicted or anything else really, you can sit in meditation and just allow yourself to feel. So often if we feel a feeling, the first thing we do is brush it off, we say to ourselves “whatever, I’m over it”, even if we’re not. But feelings are meant to be felt. And if you don’t give them the proper attention they’ll sneak up on you at unexpected times, or show themselves in your attitude or in your relationships. Once you allow yourself to feel a feeling, you can end your meditation by saying “I am willing to let this go now”. Though this ma sound silly to some, it works so well and saves you a lot of negativity, arguments and anxiety during your day.
3. To Manifest
Mediation is an amazing way to manifest more of what you want into your life. I believe that I have a relationship with Life, and so mediation and prayer are media through which I communicate what I want. If I want to let go of a feeling, I open my palms, breath deeply and say I am willing to let this go. And just like that, Life will wash it away. If I want to accomplish certain goals, I sit in meditation and visualize myself accomplishing that goal. This way I’ve taken the time to lovingly and calmly put forth what it is I want, so Life knows and can help me out with the technicalities.
4. To Seek Answers
If I am ever feeling unsure or need a question answered, I sit in meditation. I start my practice with my hands together and set the intention to “be open”. I then place my hands on my knees with upward facing palms and silently ask Life my question. I then breath deeply and focus on my breath for as long as I need. When I emerge from my meditation, I always have the answer I need. It is important to note that answers and intuition speak to you in feelings – not words. Aka I don’t here a loud voice say, “quit your job” or “yes you should go to that party this weekend”. Rather, it’s just a feeling that guides me to my resolution.
How to Meditate
Now that you know all of the great things meditation is good for, here’s how to start:
To begin meditation, all you need to do is sit in stillness. You can be in a chair or sitting criss cross on the floor. Sit with a straight spine, tucked in chin, and your hands placed gently on your knees or lap. Then all you have to do is breath deeply in through your nose, and out through your nose – that’s it! If this is too uncomfortable, you may choose to use a guided meditation. Some of my favorites are by Denise Lin available on Spotify or Youtube. Another great option is the app called HeadSpace.
Myth: Meditation means not thinking anything
Meditation does not mean that you sit there breathing without a single thought! Thoughts are a part of the process and it’s important not to get angry at yourself for having them. When a thought comes up, just notice it and say “I acknowledge this, but I don’t need to focus on it right now”, and gently come back to the breath. If the thought comes up again do the same thing, over ad over again – it gets easier with time. Try to focus on how your inhale fills your belly, and the way your belly deflates when you exhale. Sometimes if I’m having trouble focusing, I’ll count my breath – in for 5 and out for 5 – using my heartbeat to keep track. This helps me feel really grounded and in my body.
So if any of this sounds like something you’d benefit from, give it a try! Because if there’s one thing I know it’s that meditation is too amazing to be reserved for monks!