Doesn’t it sound nice? The sad truth is that for many of us living our busy lives, the word “relax” has almost taken on a laughable tone. What does relaxed even feel like? Is it possible to achieve without going on an expensive vacation or taking a personal day?
The good news is that, yes, relaxation is possible without taking financial, physical, or emotional sacrifice. It is possible whenever and wherever you want it.
It is possible through meditation.
You likely already have an idea in your head of what meditation is, even if you’ve never tried it personally. You may have images of bald-headed monks chanting with eyes closed on top of a mountain, or perhaps sitting someone sitting crosslegged in a yoga studio. While this imagery can certainly be accurate, it by no means depicts what your meditation practice should look like. In fact, let’s just nix the word should right here and now. There are no rules, just options.
A few misconceptions or myths I often hear about meditation:
“I don’t have time.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this about ANY sort of health behavior, I’d be a millionaire! The truth is that you do have time. You just have to make it a priority. Also, meditation can literally take 2 minutes… or 20 minutes… or however many minutes you want it to take! There are no rules, remember?
“My brain is too busy. I’ll never be able to stop thinking.”
Your brain’s job is to think. It would be silly for us to assume we could ever think about nothing! At first, it might be challenging to turn down the volume of the mind chatter, but with practice you will be able to tune into the quiet. There may never be a time where your mind doesn’t wander, and that’s ok. The goal of meditation is to consciously decide which thoughts to focus on, and to minimize other distractions.
“I am not a monk and I cannot/don’t want to sit crosslegged.”
Worry not, friend. There are endless ways for us common folk to meditate, including but not limited to: mindful meditation, using a mantra, chanting, drawing, dancing, and even walking meditation! There are also many, many ways to arrange your body if criss cross applesauce isn’t your thing.
“Meditation is for yogis, hipsters, and new-age spiritualists.”
Meditation is a mental practice. Just as each of us may engage in varying physical activities to take care of our physical bodies, emotional activities and relationships for our emotional needs, and spiritual activities for our spiritual needs, we must make room for engaging our mental states. While meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, research has been gathered in the last 25 years that observes one very clear message: meditation helps people live happier, healthier, less-stressed lives. While meditation can also be part of many spiritual traditions, alone it is a practice of the mind. It can increase memory, decrease cognitive decline, allow you to be more present in your everyday life, and (most importantly) help you keep your cool! At the most basic level, what we pay attention to literally determines our experience and navigation of our world. If we navigate our thoughts with greater clarity and insight, our potential for living with greater happiness, gratitude, and acceptance skyrockets.
So now what?
If you’re ready to meditate, great! First things first, watch this video I made just for you on setting up your body with props and comfy alignment to prepare for meditating, along with one of my favorite breathing techniques! I welcome your questions.