Breathe! We all know that Yoga is the “go-to” activity for holistic mindfulness and mediation. You stretch your body and your mind with each warrior pose. But, let’s be honest here. If you’re like my sister (and me), the best part of yoga is to reach that super end-of-class climax moment when we drop into savasana for meditation. Not only is it the pose that enable us to access that deep, still space in our mind, it’s also when you get to just lay there and wipe the sweat off your face. Seriously though the biggest benefit of savasana is the time you spend meditating.
There are many scientifically proven benefits of meditation.
- Stress reduction and management
- Improved concentration
- Better heart and immune health
- Greater self-awareness
- Improved sense of happiness and satisfaction
For many though, yoga isn’t your jam. You also aren’t thrilled with the idea of traditional meditation. Sitting for hours on the floor, in an uncomfortable position, while trying to block out the ongoing stream of crap that our minds seem to occupy themselves with 24/7. Or maybe you’ve tried to meditate but you just can’t quite seem to “get it.” Well, good news. Here’s 10 simple ways to incorporate meditation into your daily life without getting into lotus.
Download the ‘Calm’ app to your phone, take a deep breath, close your eyes and spend 10 minutes listening to the gentle ocean waves breaking or the crackling of a warm fire. When you mind wanders (and it will), gently take it’s by the hand and lead it back. Oh, and as an added bonus, there’s a beautiful “word of the day” to contemplate that comes with each ‘Daily Calm’.
Back to Nature
Garden, forest or beach, get out there! Soak in the sun and reacquaint yourself with the ground, your feet and the natural world. As you tune into nature’s simple rhythms, your breath and thoughts slow down. You start to unconsciously match Mother Nature’s gentle vibration. You can also tune into your inner child by lying down and searching out faces in the overhead clouds.
Seek the Peace
For vacation this year, grab your best gal pals and go on a yoga retreat to someplace wonderful like India, Thailand or Sardinia (Check out these and more amazing destinations here: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/jan/13/best-yoga-meditation-retreats-fitness-breaks-mind-body ). Want to say local in the good old US of A? Plan a wine tour down the beautiful California coastline (with a driver!). Soak in the sunshine and the grapes and get your Zen on.
March your woo-woo self to the freezer, grab some ice cream and spend some quality time with Ben & Jerry. Ok, maybe that’s just me but whatever your “go-to” yum is, grab some and join the fun. Focus on lifting the first bite to your lips. Consider the temperature, taste, and sensation of the food as it slides down your throat. This ancient practice of mindful eating is a revered meditation ritual, as well as an awesome way to express gratitude for our bounty! Plus, it’s better for our bodies then mindless eating!
Get your art on
There is a type of meditation called “Effortless Presence.” The goal is to be doing something that allows your mind to be empty, still, and quiet. But how do you do this without formal training? Try coloring books or paint by number. There are loads of popular themes- nature, flowers, mandalas all designed for adult skill levels to challenge, calm and put you into that place of “flow” where the constant chatter in our mind slips away and, for a little while, makes time stand still. If art is not your thing, try activities like needlework, beading, crafting, or even kneading bread.
We are a rush, rush, go, go society that doesn’t take enough time for ourselves. When we do something we love though time stands still. Our stream of thoughts, stories, and dramas mysteriously slip away. So go immerse yourself in your favorite activity and pay no attention to those background distractions! Afterward, observe your feelings. Are you calmer? Happier? Woo-hoo! This is called the power-of-the-present-moment meditation and it’s really that easy.
We all know our happy place is by the sea but sometimes you just have to settle for second best. Soak in a bubble filled tub. Breathe in the warm steam and observe how your muscles relax in the hot water. Add some essential oils to quiet or stimulate blocked or overactive chakras. Read a favorite book, light a candle, drink some wine or chant one of your favorite mantras. A bath may also lead to you feeling relaxed and initiate a drop in temperature which will induce your sleep signals—an added bonus if you’re having trouble sleeping.
Work your mind
Before you rush into the next slew of emails and meetings, take a few reflective minutes to reset your attitude. Prior to sending that response or answering that question from your insistent colleague, take a power moment. Sit up straight. In your mind, clearly outline your purpose and intention and visualize a desired outcome. You’ll find that others respond to you more favorably when you approach them with a positive expectation.
Practice Loving Kindness
Loving Kindness meditation is also known as “Metta Meditation,” and comes from the Buddhist tradition. The idea being to start from within and work your way out. To practice this, close your eyes, and focus on feeling kindness and love for yourself. Repeat a mantra for yourself like “May I be happy, May I be at peace.” Then send your love outward by focusing on a friend and repeating the mantra. If you’re feeling negative about someone, the quickest way to peace is forgiveness. Picture that person and offer them love and kindness. “May he/she be peaceful. May he/she be happy.” Move forward to all life on earth — pets, animals, insects. Finally, imagine yourself viewing the earth from space. “May all on earth be peaceful. May all be happy.” Then expand it out to the entire universe.
Most of us breathe very shallow during the day rather than regularly filling our lungs with the breath of the earth. If you find it challenging to sit in stillness, all is not right in your world. Breathing invokes the relaxation response that aids your mind, as well as your brain and body, in coping with whatever you’re facing. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, take 3 deep breaths, holding each one for a few seconds. You will immediately feel more calm and ready to tackle your next challenge.
So which one are you ready to try? Comment back and let me know. Me? I’m going to find some ice cream.
Until next time!
xoxo – Cheryl