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My Story and Meditation
Before I started taking classes to become a yoga instructor, I never tried to meditate. Like a lot of people, I always looked at meditation as something that required a cool robe or crystals. (I didn’t “really” think that) but I did think it was something that I would not be able to do, so I never tried. (I had no meditation techniques). However, I was introduced to meditation pretty early on in my yoga teacher training.
Meditation has a ton of benefits. It can help you feel happier, sleep better, and calm the voice in your head. The last part of that sentence is the most important for me because I feel like I always have 1000 thoughts running around in my brain. I must admit, at first I was a skeptic. I would sit in silence for a few minutes and when I didn’t feel like anything “happened” I got up and started working on something else. But as time has gone on, I revisited meditation and I’m glad that I did.
Once I started actually sitting still (for more than 5 minutes) and really noticing my breath, I started to feel a calm come over me. (Full disclosure: I’m a talker. I LOVE to talk so sitting still and being quiet for almost any period of time can be difficult for me). I persisted. Whenever my mind would start drifting off to other thoughts, I would come back over and over again.
Mediation is not Easy
I want to make sure that I’m being clear, for me (and a lot of people) this is not easy. We as a society have short attention spans and get distracted very easily. I can start thinking about a flower and that turns into a rose and that turns into purple roses (my favorite ones) and that turns into a memory of when I received purple roses and that turns into who gave them to me and the thoughts go on and on. Two minutes later, I’m so far removed from the initial flower that I wonder how my mind shifted so fast. But alas, I just refocus back on the flower and start again.
How do you get started meditating? You just do.
- Find a comfortable place to sit where you won’t be distracted. This can be a chair or a pillow on the floor…whatever you feel most comfortable doing. This is very important because if you aren’t comfortable, your thoughts can easily turn to think about that instead of focusing on concentrating. Some people use specific meditation pillows.
- Use a timer. The reason this is important is two-fold. Initially, when you are trying to concentrate, it can easily feel like you’ve been sitting still for 30 minutes when it’s only been 4. Also, using a timer ensures you don’t go past a designated time that you have chosen to meditate. Although there are cell phone apps out there that you can download, I use the timer on my iPhone.
- Begin to concentrate. I close my eyes when I meditate but it certainly isn’t “required”. With my mouth closed, I shift my focus to my breath going in and out. (This is also something that I do during various parts of my yoga practice). Really try to clear your mind and focus only on your breathing. (Counting your breaths may help). If this is too difficult, try to focus on one item or sound. Here are some choices for Meditation music.
- Bring it back. When your mind wanders, and it will, just bring it back and focus on your breathing again. Keep following this same process until your timer alerts you that the session is over. When you are ready to practice again, do the exact same thing.
- Give yourself a break. This is hands down the most important part. Certainly, meditation may not be for you because everything isn’t for everybody, however, realize that almost everyone (myself included) struggled/continues to struggle. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Keep trying. Even if you just get a few minutes completed, the benefits can be plentiful.
Do you have some great meditation tips? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Please comment below to let me know all about them!