When someone tells me they don’t know how to meditate, my reply is always, “of course you do!!!” As if there’s one hard and fast rule about how to meditate or that if it doesn’t follow a set protocol, it isn’t really meditation.
I want to smack my head against the wall when I read articles that talk about the ‘newly discovered’ benefits of meditation. Folks. Meditation can be traced back to the second half of the first millennium BC. I can’t even wrap my head around how long ago that was. And the benefits are not surprising or newly discovered at all. Most importantly, by meditating, you teach yourself how to release pent up stress and deal better in stressful situations. Considering that the majority of illnesses and diseases today are the result of the stress we experience daily, a couple of minutes in a 24-hour day – and that’s all it takes – can go a long way to getting and keeping us healthy. Not to mention the multitude of physical benefits of meditation including lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety, decreasing tension-related pain such as headaches and muscle problems, increasing serotonin and improving the immune system…and the list goes on and on.
There are tons of methods of meditation, intended to get you into a deeply relaxed state where you can shut off your monkey mind long enough to experience some real soul-healing silence. Everything from Transcendental to Mindfulness to Zazen to Kundalini to Guided – there are countless techniques. If you want to get started, all you really need to know is how to get yourself into the zone – because that’s what meditation is – getting into a zone. This can happen in unexpected ways and is probably different than what you think it is.
If you’re just starting, make it easy for yourself. Feel how it feels to meditate. Once you recognize the feeling and get accustomed to the calm it brings, it becomes addictive (in a good way). Then, if you so choose, you can look at expanding your meditation practice by looking at different techniques.
Think of something that gets you in the zone. What do I mean by ‘the zone’? You’re looking for that feeling of absolute presence. The feeling that you’re doing what you’re doing fully, and your mind isn’t racing about other things. When you’re in the zone, you’re simply being and breathing.
The key is to be totally present in the moment.
You might find this kind of calm happens when you’re working out – when you’re concentrating on your breath as you lift weights – that’s a form of meditation. Or, when you’re reading and really digesting every word, envisioning what’s happening in your mind’s eye and getting lost in the story – that’s a form of meditation. Perhaps you sit in your backyard and watch the world around you with a true sense of peace and calm – that’s a form of meditation. As long as you’re doing these things and you’re fully present, think of them all as mini meditations. As long as you’re not allowing yourself to get caught up in thoughts about your to-do list, what to make for dinner or what you coulda/shoulda/woulda done differently about any multitude of situations.
It’s perfectly natural that your mind might wander when you’re engaged in any activity. Lose yourself, be truly in the moment and just…breathe. Allow your body to relax and focus on something other than the thoughts you can often chase in circles and that will likely only place more stress on you.
Take a couple of minutes every day to just lose yourself to something that utterly captures your attention. Tweet that!
It’s funny – the more you lose yourself this way, the more you find yourself in the process.