Don’t let the exterior fool you. It’s taken me 24 years to master the art of chilling.
As an athlete and lover of cannabis who grew up with a classical religious education, I’ve definitely heard my fill of information about meditation and its various spiritual benefits, but I could never quite get into it.
I was always the kid squirming, giggling, or goofing off and poking my friends during “quiet time” at school or church.
When my swim team did guided visualization exercises before championship meets, I wanted to participate, but couldn’t fully concentrate on keeping my eyes closed for more than 30 seconds. Must have been all the caffeine.
And, in spite of the amazing effects of cannabis, I have long allowed the deadlines and stresses of college and the professional world to run rampant inside my head, even during relaxing time at home. Now that I’m working from home indefinitely, those universes are converging at top speed.
Through my health blogging and reading, and personal yoga/stretching practice, I think I’ve finally got it down to a basic routine. I’m providing my easy tips to get started, for those like me who have too many responsibilities to “let go of” (trust me- you can let go!) and a million ideas swirling at all times.
Find Your Setting
Finding the perfect setting is essential to having a good meditation session. Anything that might make ring, vibrate, or otherwise make noise (like a phone, tablet, or computer), or rub up against you (like a pet) is a potential distraction.
My new favorite place to meditate is the steam room at my gym. It has black tiled walls, a soothing humming silence, and is usually empty – people coming in and out of the door are usually quiet and keep to themselves, if anyone comes in at all. The steam promotes physical relaxation and also helps in feeling the breath as it travels in and out of the lungs. Try it – just make sure you bring a water bottle in there.
Find Your Breath
Breathing is the number one most important part of meditation. It’s an involuntary action done by our bodies, so you’ll keep breathing whether you’re actively thinking about it or not, but it’s best to establish a breathing pattern to avoid unevenness and put your body in a calm, relaxed state.
Inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth, creating a cycle of air in and out of your body.
Find Your Mantra
Language is powerful – putting our intentions into physical words gives them new life and helps direct us toward achieving what we desire. I didn’t have much success just sitting and trying to meditate…the silence was too loud, and music tends to take me on a mental journey apart from my intended purpose for meditating.
If you can’t clear your mind, try focusing it instead.
All Together Now…
I take a comfy seat, with legs crossed (applesauce). I get into my breathing rhythm, in through the nose and out through the mouth slowly and with complete control over each breath.
Then I bring in the mantra.
Upon inhaling, I think about the word “peace,” and exhale thinking about “gratitude.” If I’m having trouble falling into a meditative rhythm, I’ll add “focus” on every other inhale.
What do you think? Has meditation helped your life practice at all? Have I broken it down pretty well, or is there an even simpler method to get started?