With hectic schedules and long to do, taking a moment out of our busy day to find more calm is vital for our health and well-being. And one of the ways to do this, and my personal favourite, is through meditation.
Meditation is really just a fancy word for taking some time to turn off distractions, focus on your breath and tune in to yourself. Meditation is said to have many benefits like feeling more relaxed in general, sleeping better, feeling less stressed and anxious, more focused at work, feeling more balanced within themselves, more connected to their body, feeling more grounded and at peace, and having more energy! All pretty good reasons for making it a daily habit..
Personally I find that when I start my morning with a little meditation, it helps me keep a calm, clear and focused mind. It also grounds me and helps me to connect with how I'm feeling, so throughout the day I find I'm much happier, more relaxed and present (which benefits everyone around me and everything I do). There are many different types of meditation, but it really is very simple.
So here are 5 tips and steps to making meditation a daily habit:
1. First, please do not let this become another item that you need to check off on your to do list. Instead try to look at it as a moment of serenity you're giving yourself in the morning or amidst a busy day. Some people love it, some don’t. Keep in mind that anytime we are trying something new, it can feel different and perhaps even uncomfortable, so give it a few tries to see how it makes you feel before deciding to continue or not.
2. Whenever we are trying to incorporate a new habit in to our day, it can help to do it at the same time every day and even in the same physical space. This makes it easier to remember, creates a familiarity around it and our mind begins to automatically relax as we get ready to meditate. Pick a time and space that works for you.
Personally I love to meditate in the morning after my son and husband leave for work, as I feel it helps my mind stay calm and focused. But if your mornings feel chaotic and your juggling a million things, try taking a few minutes after parking the car before you step in to work, or after a shower in the evening before bed. Choose anywhere or any time that works for you.
3. Make yourself comfortable. If you're on your yoga mat, pop a pillow under your bum. It can also help to sit on a chair with your feet touching the floor, hip width apart. Try not to worry about your surroundings - you or it doesn’t need to look instagram ready to feel good. Sounds can be distracting at first so try to find a space where you won’t be disturbed.
Sit with a straight but relaxed back and tuck your chin in a little so that you have a straight spine. Have your eyes open with a soft gaze or closed, which is often easier to focus your attention inward. Let your hands rest on your thighs, knees or in your lap. Try to relax.
4. As you sit comfortably and prepare to find sweet serenity, you can bet that those annoying thoughts, worries and items on your to do list are going to pop up. It's natural. But the more you try to fight these thoughts from coming, the stronger and more invasive they may seem. So instead accept that thoughts will come and when they do, simply acknowledge that they are there, then let them go as you exhale. The aim of meditation is not to have no thoughts, but rather to allow time for your mind chatter to vent out and for your thoughts and feelings to surface and release, so that you can go about your day with a more calm and focused mind.
5. Often we think the aim is to meditate for the longest amount of time, but this isn’t the case so start with short intervals such as 3-10min and work your way in to longer sessions. You can choose to sit in silence and simply focus on your breathing. Or often it can be great to use a guided meditation (like this one) if you're just starting out, as it gives you something to focus on and guides you step by step.
I hope you find these tips helpful and give it a try - notice how you feel after and throughout the day.