Meditation looks so calming, peaceful and relaxing when we see someone practicing it at a park, on television or in a yoga class. For those of us without any real idea of what meditation is, it can seem daunting; a secret club to which we don’t know where the door is located much less what the password might be. In our busy, on-the-go lives, we simply don’t have time to read a book about how to meditate properly or attend a class at our local community centre to learn the finer points from a master of this soothing, centering spiritual activity. It’s Finding Inner Peace.
The true secret to meditation may be that it’s not difficult to learn nor to practice, assuming one gives it the respect due — meaning time, commitment and effort. While time is one of our most fleeting commodities, even a few simple moments spent practicing the art of meditation can drastically improve your mental health, psychological well-being and even make you feel better physically.
Defining meditation is the first step to being able to practice it. Simply put, meditation is the relaxation technique used to relieve stress, anxiety and increase one’s inner peace and focus.
Once you have a handle on what meditation is, it’s easier to get into the practice of doing it. As one practitioner says, “There’s no such thing as being bad at meditation.” Do what is comfortable for you and realize that even the guidelines here are all flexible to your individual needs and tastes.
Being comfortable is extremely important when one begins to meditate. Make sure the room you are in, the clothes you are wearing and the position you choose to meditate in are all comfortable. If you are distracted by a television in the next room, an itchy sweater or muscle strain from trying to sit like a Zen master, you’re only hurting yourself.
Picking a time of day that you can routinely mediate at is also a good idea. Your body will begin to associate this time with what you are trying to accomplish.
Once you’ve got your environment and time of day picked out, perform some gentle stretching or yoga poses. Not only will this focus you on the activity at hand, it will keep you from getting tight or sore if you are meditating in a position your body usually doesn’t spend much time in.
Next, concentrate on your breathing. Deep, slow breaths that you are completely invested in are a huge piece of the puzzle. Don’t allow your mind to wander to what you need from the grocery store or what your kids need for their next science project. Focus solely on the inhale and exhale. Once you master this, begin concentrating on your various body parts — either start with your feet or with your head. Go in order from one body part to the next, completely focused on it. You’ll likely be amazed how much stress or tension you are hiding in some areas that can now be, at least partially, released.
Perhaps the most important tip in beginning meditation is: don’t give up. Not every session will be ideal. Some will be interrupted by phone calls or your child needing something; others by your own inability to clear your mind. The key is to repeat the process as many times as possible, learning from your mistakes until you can focus your mind, body and spirit into the art of meditation. The rewards will be worth your time.
If all you can afford is 5 minutes to breathe deeply and clear your mind, go for it.
Until next time …
Keep Fit & Have Fun!
Hal & Joanne