I feel with meditation it's like, when you know you know - and for so long I did not know.
Meditation has sooo many benefits for people that do it regularly, and the benefits only maximize over time.
Its been shown to:
- increase memory and attention (through increasing grey matter in areas related to memory)
- increase brain volume specifically in areas related to emotional regulation, positive emotions and self control (Yes please! Ladies you feel me!)
- Decrease depression
- Increase immunity
- Improve your sleep
- Decrease anxiety
- regulate hormone levels (which helps with weight loss, appetite)
This short list includes only a few of the amazing benefits all proven by science. It’s rad right? Natural, free and accessible for everyone.
Including all of these things on that list and more, meditation has changed my life.
Have I ever told you that Justin always says I’m ‘cool but not chill’. LOL I'm serious.
It’s true I just don’t sit around easily, I can’t/don’t watch TV or movies period. I’m bored soooo easily. I just can't really sit around and relax, like, ever.
But meditation has helped me to chill, be present, and reeee-lllaaxxxx.
It's has enabled me to eliminate my nagging loop thoughts ('what am I doing with my life’ sort of stuff…), anxious feelings, or any quick reactions of impatience I had previously. Because of it I’m a better girlfriend, friend, employee and stranger (like I manage on the NYC subway everyday).
I’ve been meditating daily for about 2 years now. I increase and decrease the amount of time I do it based upon if I need it or if I have time - I’m not so strict about it. This teacher on our Patagonia trip taught me, and although it didn’t stick so much then, it does now.
Okay so, full disclosure. It’s not easy to meditate, per say, just takes patience. The difficulty lies in continually trying to quiet your mind, and clear your thoughts.
There are numerous ways to meditate, with various methods and philosophies all basically in the same vein. I’ve done workshops on Transcendental Meditation (TM) and I know there are four other ways, but let’s keep it simple.
Let’s get to it (medis’ for all):
- Number one baby. Eliminate any excuses you could have to not take time to meditate. Like, put the phone on silent, make sure your roommate knows what’s up for the next 20, just commit to that time. In the morning is good, because theres often less distracting you (hopefully not yet at least!) They say you should do it, after you wake, before you eat, and start your day. I’m too hungry so I eat, and then sit, but just so you know what it’s like by the books.
- Sit in a comfortable, dark, quiet space. Just a place you can be sure to relax and not fidget. I have a blanket folded up in our bathroom (NYC Life) that I sit crossed legged on. I like that it’s dark, small and quiet in there so I can focus. You can meditate with lights on, anywhere technically, but when you first start out you want to be able to relax. Dark is good because you’re not so alert (light signals to your brain it’s day and you should be active), and you can fall into it much more easily. So quiet, dark, seated comfortably. Checkkkkkk.
- Close ya eyes but don’t fall asleep! LOL meditation is relaxing but not sleeping. Sometimes I swear Justin just takes naps when he says he’s meditating haha.
- Feel all 5 senses. Like, feel your sit bones connect to the ground, feel the weight of your body, feel the air around you, feel your breath, and feel the clothes resting on your body. Going through these helps you to really be present and in your space. (Another trick: if you don’t have time or are not in the right space, you can also connect to your physical senses sitting in a chair to bring yourself to be more present by using this awareness technique).
- Focus on your breath, continuously, or your mantra. In the practice of Transcendental Meditation, you’re given a mantra which helps to signify to your body that you’re going to release and fall into meditation. This focus and release, is honestly the part where people get frustrated and quit. It took me at least two months of sitting there trying to shut off my thoughts, getting frustrated because I couldn’t turn off before I let go and fell into it. It does take time. But if you think about it, your brain is on all.day.long. you give your body a break from working out but not your brain from working all day erryday. It needs that shut down, that release, to help you perform optimally. You don’t need a mantra, but it’s helpful for focus. A few mantras (a word or phrase you repeat over and over again) I use are: ‘I am’ or ‘clear’ which signal to my body and brain to drop into a meditative state much more quickly.
- Don’t judge your thoughts, but notice them. what sort of continuously shows up when you’re trying to quiet your mind. I read once to ‘see your thoughts as a sailboat, drifting by’ as in, you are not attached to those thoughts or the emotions that come with them, you are watching them from afar drift by in your mind. You watch them, remaining calm. LOL I see sailboats, I know I’m a loon whatevs.
- If you can’t get into it, appreciate that you took time for yourself.
- After 5-20 minutes, however long you decide to dedicate to your relaxation, your clear mind, your health, you can slowly ‘start to bring awareness back to your body. Wiggle them toes and shit so you don’t fall or anything when you try to get up.
This shouldn’t be torture. Again, if you’re hearing that you want to get up, get up, follow that. Maybe try it again later if you’re more able to get in to it. Use that time sitting on the floor in your bathroom to be grateful as fuck you are alive, for the ones you love, and find joy as much joy as you can in the present moment.
Sometimes you can get in it, sometimes not, depends on the place, how you’re feeling, your energy level, etc. it just takes practice. There are times when I literally drop so hard into a meditative state and others when it just will not happen. Both, are okay because you allow them to be okay.
If you want to read more about meditation, and the benefits you can read here. If you live in New York City, there are two places I highly recommend going to the Tibet House or Transcendental Meditation Center of NYC.
I’m hopeful this helps provide baby steps to clearing your mind and making you a little happier. Any questions, ask away, this shit I love! :)