Meditation for a long time has gotten a bad wrap. Truth be told there was a time not too long ago that if you asked me if I meditated I would boldly say nope thats not the life that I live.
Like most of you reading I had preconceived notions in my head about what meditation was and how I didn’t need that sort of thing in my life (LOL). Spoiler alert, I was wrong on so many levels.
Myths that I had built in my mind: Meditation is sitting in a room in silence, there is 0 chance I can ever quiet my thoughts, meditation has no real purpose or can provide any real relief in my life. Now is a good time to (AGAIN) remind you good people, I was wrong :).
What is Meditation? This is a pretty loaded question. Meditation is alot of things to alot of different people from all walks of life. I dont know that there is a simplified answer as to what meditation is, but if I had to give a swing at answering here are my thoughts. Meditation is a tool used to train your thoughts and awareness. The goal is to become clear emotionally + mentally while in a calm state.
Who is Meditation for? Well my friends, it’s really for any and everyone! If you struggle with anxiety, stress or depression meditation is an amazing tool to assist in alleviating those symptoms. If your goal is to be more focused and productive, meditation can assist with quieting and grounding the mind.
What Meditation isn’t: Meditation isn’t a religion, a quick fix, magic or cure all. Now don’t get me wrong meditation has countless benefits and there is a butt load of science behind how meditation can help in so many areas of the mind BUT it is not the end all be all in this thing we call life. Meditation is a tool that requires practice and a little bit of effort to gain a solid meditation practice.
When should you Meditate or how often: Meditation just as any other practice is solely based on preference. There is no right or wrong answer to when, how much or how long. The personalized answer will be different for everyone. For beginners maybe you start just 1 time a week for 5 minute and progress from there. Attempting to meditate the same time each day can assist in forming a habit for your meditation practice. Try to meditate at different times during the day to see which time is the most beneficial for you. I personally love to set my days intention with meditation, there are also times when I need a little night meditation to center myself before bed. Take stock of how you feel after you meditate, if you feel that its helpful see where you can add more into your weekly routine. Remember meditation isnt a chore, or an item to check off; think of it as a tool that you use when needed to bring calm to your mind.
The Breakdown (need to know’s)
If you have ever googled or searched meditations as a beginner it can be so very overwhelming because like all things in this world there are so many kinds of meditation practices! Meditation is like Ben & Jerry’s, there are all kinds of flavors based on what you want. The great thing is although there are several types and kinds of meditation, for the most part meditation is broken down into 2 main branches:
Non-directive: Begin with focusing on breath and its o.k. if the mind wonders. There is no true focus as the mind drifts from one thought to the next. The idea behind this branch is as you allow your mind to wonder and those things that have been keeping you boggled down will start to ease away as the various thoughts run through your mind. Without even noticing with this branch you start to feel more relaxed and at ease.
Concentrative or Focused: Begins with focus on breath, mantra, visual, body or object to help the mind not wonder off. If the mind starts to wonder, gently redirect back to where the focus should be. This branch can take a little bit of mind power because it is very natural for the brain to move from thought to thought. This branch can also be very enlightening as you focus solely on one thing. For this branch my favorite focus is visual, where I attempt to see something so very clearly in my mind down to the slightest details.
Because there are so many types of meditations I wanted to focus on the ones that I used as a beginner that helped me find my meditation stride. Here are some of my favorite meditation types that are super beginner friendly!
Mindfulness Meditation: A fully present meditation that allows you to be with your thoughts, present where you are while not engaging in activity around you. Thoughts and emotions run freely in this meditation, you let them flow easily taking note of what comes up and letting the thoughts and emotions go without any judgement. Heres How: Find a seated position and begin to breath deeply clearing your thoughts, with each breath notice what thoughts and emotions come up for you. Acknowledge them and let them go. Allow whatever thoughts and emotions that may come move freely within your mind like the tide at the beach, let them come and and let them flow out.
Tip: Can be done anywhere at anytime. Because this meditation is free flowing you can be in a room of total silence but it isn’t exactly necessary.
Shower Meditation: Who doesn’t feel more relaxed after a good shower? Shower meditation is a real thing! Here’s How: As you undress, imagine each piece of clothing as something you want to leave behind from your day. With each item you remove, start to feel lighter. As you clean, imagine washing the day away. Imagine any negative thoughts or feelings being washed away with the water down the drain. Take a few moments at the end of your shower for gratitude. Gratitude for the warm shower, the ability to start new and fresh + for those moments you took for yourself to reground.
Tips: Candles, Essential oils/ Diffuser, Eucalyptus salts are all great to help set the mood to ease the mind. I personally like to play music while in the shower and for shower meditations I typically go with a more peaceful sound or no music at all.
Loving Meditation: Get all the feels with this meditation! It is exactly what it sounds like, a huge love-fest for yourself, loved ones and the universe. Here’s How: Find a seated position, I don’t recommend laying down since this meditation is one of focus, but please do what feels comfortable to you. Focus on self to start, sending yourself all the love and encouragement that comes to mind. Gently shift your thoughts to family, loved ones or situations. Visualize sending love and positive thoughts. Take inventory and gratitude of all things.
Tips: A quiet space, essential oils and a good mantra to start. If my goal is to uplift myself, taking deep breaths I repeat ” I am strong, I am capable, I have everything I need, I am loved and I feel peace” . After a few breaths and minutes of self focus, I begin to send love and light out to my loved ones or people of the world.
Guided Meditation: Have your thoughts guided in this meditation. Very ideal for those looking to start a meditation practice. Guided can also be considered visual or imagery meditation as you are lead to use your senses to find calm. Here’s How: Using a guided meditation app or meditation mix-tape from Spotify begin with deep breathing allowing your mind to go where the guide leads you.
Tips: There are a ton of great guided meditation apps, my hands down 2 favorites are the Insight timer app and Headspace. Select the time that you have available to meditate and do your meditation anywhere. I do a quick 10 min meditation everyday while waiting in the carpool line.
Although the thought of meditation itself can be overwhelming the truth of the matter is, it really shouldn’t be. In its simplest form the ultimate goal of meditation is to focus + calm the mind. In our current society there is so much distraction and noise inside our minds. During meditation concerns about the past and worries about the future are not of concern. The present moment is the only focus.
What types of mediation do you enjoy? If you have any questions or meditation apps I should try, I would love to hear them below.