Most people don’t have a regular meditation practice. I can’t stress to patients enough the importance of a coping mechanism for the stressors of everyday life.
We are, at our core, animals. From our deepest roots, our fight or flight is a gut reaction to outside stressors. Instead of being chased by tigers, like our ancestors, we have families with constant demands, deadlines at work, and never-ending to-do lists.
So how often are you in that fight or flight mode? Is it a constant that is slowly (or quickly) draining your adrenals, affecting your sleep, or causing you digestive upset? Do you get tension headaches? Migraines? Panic attacks? What is your coping mechanism? Do you have one?
People decompress in many ways: running, reading, therapy, yoga, etc. Having an outlet for stress from a physical and emotional perspective is important, but there is a mind-body connection that can go overlooked. We are also energetic and spiritual beings and it’s important to address all the aspects of ourselves for better health and happiness.
The benefits of meditation are numerous. It takes the body out of that fight-or-flight mode into a state of calm. This allows the body to function better, digestion moves more smoothly, inflammation decreases and tension melts. It’s a way to interconnect with self. It’s an even better way to interconnect with other humans.
So, that being said, the question is: “how do I get started?” Many people think meditation is sitting in a quiet spot and not thinking. It’s nearly impossible for the average person to do this effectively, so here are some tips I recommend to get started.
Set up your space
Having a designated meditation spot helps create an environment of calm. Set up a space away from technology and noise; put your phone in the other room or out of reach, face down and on silent mode. You can light a candle, or put on an oil diffuser with relaxing music.
Get a yoga mat, a pillow or a meditation pillow and set up a comfortable place for you to sit or lie down. If thinking about your meditation space gives you an immediate sense of calm and well-being, you are doing it right! If not, don’t be afraid to change things. Maybe you like more lighting, or silence. Play around with different environments until you get the right one.
Set a time limit
Realistically, your first session isn’t going to be a huge, transformational, 3-hour interconnection with god. You’re going to be impatient, you’re going to think about groceries, and work, and the kids (who’s picking them up again?). THAT’S OK. Your mind is going to wander.
Start with 3-5 minutes. Set a timer on your phone, put it face down- out of hands reach and start. 3-5 minutes a day to start, not bad, right?
Settle into the chaos- be present
As you sit there, where are you? Like I said, your mind is going to wander into a thousand different directions (you’ll be shocked at the tangents you can explore as you try to settle into silence.) So let the thoughts come in, let them linger shortly, then let them go. They aren’t going to help you right now, in this space, in this body. Be as present as possible.
There are some breathing techniques that can help distract your thoughts and calm your body and mind.
Start with counting the breath, breathing in to the count of three, breathing out to the count of three. Over time (and several meditation sessions) build up to seven. Or add a pause at the end of each breath, holding the breath out and holding the breath in.
There are more advanced breath work options available the more you practice. Some of my favorites are alternative nostril breath and three part breathing. Start slow, then gain momentum.
Make it a habit
You need to make meditation a part of your every day routine. How do you do that? Schedule it! Add it to your google calendar for the same time every day. Will you meditate every day if it’s first thing in the morning when you get up, or do you find it more helpful at night after the kids have gone to bed, when you can wind down and use it to prep for sleep? You decide, but make it a regular part of your day.
Like most things, the more you practice, the easier it becomes! Be patient with yourself and the process. It’s definitely worth the patience and dedication and will soon shape you into a more patient and calm human!
Regular acupuncture visits also help calm the mind and will assist with your regular meditation practice. If you’d like to schedule a visit, click here for scheduling. Otherwise, check out my website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more information.
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