Feeling stressed out, reactive, and overwhelmed lately? Wouldn’t you like to feel more focused, productive and relaxed instead? Research shows again and again that meditation can help. I know, I know, you’re too busy to meditate. You can’t sit still. It’s boring. You don’t know if you’re doing it right. Let me dispel some myths, give you some guidance and show you why you need to start a meditation practice in the New Year.
You’re Not Too Busy to Meditate
I hear you; you’re a very busy person with a very busy schedule. How can you fit in a meditation practice? My advice: Set realistic expectations. Set the bar low with bite-sized meditations. Some expert advice from renowned yoga and meditation teacher Cyndi Lee: Be gentle with yourself. Dip your toe in and when the bell rings after 5 or 10 minutes, that’s it for the day. Quit while you are still hungry, so that you look forward to the next time. But be smart about when you meditate. Set yourself up for success. If you wait to do it later in the day or before you go to bed you may run out of time or fall asleep, so I suggest giving yourself an extra few minutes in the morning right when you wake up. It will set a nice tone for your day. And if you’re having a hard time sitting still, try doing some yoga before you meditate. A bit of movement can help settle your body and prepare it to be still and focus.
“Drip, drip, drip, the bucket fills.” This is another gem from Cyndi Lee, meaning that meditation is a lesson in patience. Keep sitting and practicing; it will add up over time. Meditation helps produce dopamine and serotonin, which help you feel good. Every day your capacity to hold that good feeling grows. Things that would’ve normally triggered you won’t anymore over time. Meditation helps to heal old trauma. It helps you be more patient, more kind, more resilient. Your baseline of contentedness gets higher, and you want to keep feeling that way so you keep doing it. If you stop, you can tell the difference. But just remember: it doesn’t happen overnight, and you have to do it every day to see results. Drip, drip, drip.
You’re Doing It Right
The renowned meditation teacher, Tara Brach, tells the story of not having time for her formal meditation practice when she had just had a baby, so she would sit on the edge of her bed for 3 minutes, being present with the sensations and feelings moving through her. That counted, and it made a difference. Breathing, just being. “It doesn’t matter where or when or how long. It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting or standing,” she says. “The daily pause to just be present builds on itself and creates a gravitational field that increasingly calls you to presence throughout all the moments of your life.” So if you can sit on the edge of your bed for 3 minutes and just be present with sensations and feelings moving through you, take it from an expert, you’re doing it right.
That said, there are a multitude of different meditation techniques to choose from. If you would rather be guided through your meditation experience (with the added benefit of supporting a local small business owner), I have curated a Meditation Medley of four different meditations–an 8-minute Affirmation Meditation, a 10-minute Mantra Meditation, a 10-minute Yoga Nidra (Nap!) Meditation, and a 15-minute Breath Meditation–in a simple audio download format to help you start and stick with a meditation practice. Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and allow me to guide you through these meditations to increase your focus, become more present and relieve stress in the New Year.