I have always been intrigued by meditation.
A practice that calms your body, mind, and soul? Sign me up!
One of my biggest goals and inspiration to meditate started with this beautiful quote:
“Within yourself is a stillness, a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself”
But it only took me a few tries to realize it’s much harder than it looks.
I’ve always been a detailed learner. I need to know exactly how something should be done. If you’re teaching me how to cook, you have to show me how much measurement of salt to add. I don’t do estimates. Which makes meditation all the more frustrating for me. Because there IS no proper way to explain it.
But in the last few weeks, I have started using an and figured out a way to meditate that actually works for me!
So, if you’re like me and need MORE than just hearing people say breathe deeply or repeat affirmations, this article is for you.
First of all, let’s talk about the benefits of meditation. I know you must have heard it a lot, but it’s worth reiterating. Research shows that meditation has the power to actually change the neural connections in our brain to cope better with stress, anxiety, and depression. It can increase your attention span and help in greater clarity of thoughts. Regular practice is key in order to deeply feel these benefits.
I like to think of it as a healing massage. For your brain.
Here’s how I practice meditation and make it work for me
1. Start with a guided meditation
For beginners, guided meditations can be a blessing.
Apps like Calm, Headspace, and Sanvello provide a range of meditations such as deep breathing, body scans, self-compassion, processing grief, finding peace, walking meditations, muscle relaxation, positive visualization, and more.
Some apps even have the option of adding nature or piano sounds to the background of the guided meditation for additional calm. I like listening to rain/thunderstorm sounds while I meditate. I find that it helps reduce the number of times my thoughts drift away and keeps me more focused and relaxed.
Depending on your mood or what you’re seeking, you can select the kind of meditation that is right for you.
2. Focus on your breath through the lungs (instead of the stomach)
You will be asked to focus on your breathing when you are meditating. It sounds simple enough, but it’s hard for some people like me.
Many meditations recommend focusing on your stomach because inhaling should expand your stomach, and exhaling should flatten it. But focusing on my stomach just makes me out of breath quicker.
So, what I do is I focus on the deep breath coming into my lungs, filling it up and expanding, and then exhaling out of my lungs.
3. Main focus = the weight of your body
Many times, while meditating, we lose touch with our presence. Naturally, our thoughts will wander. And that is perfectly okay.
Recognize it and gently try to shift your focus.
Breathing and bodywork are the two ways I do this.
Because when you focus purely on your breathing, it can be hard to sustain that for more than a few minutes. If you can, that’s great! But if not, I have a suggestion for you.
To bring your attention back to the present moment, try focusing on the weight of your body or feet on the sofa. Or wherever you are sitting. Notice how your body/feet are pressed down onto it. Feel the gentle heaviness of it.
Feel that this is your presence.
4. End by gently wiggling your toes & fingers and noticing sounds
At the end of your meditation, you can bring more of your attention back to the present moment. Wiggle your toes or fingers and notice the sounds around you. Then, gently open your eyes.
5. Note down how the meditation made you feel
Journal about the sensations and feelings you felt in that meditation session. This encourages you to meditate again as you revisit the positive emotions it made you feel.
You don’t need to go too much into detail. Treat it as a free-flowing exercise and write whatever feels right. Some days, it will be a paragraph, while others will be one or two sentences. That’s alright.
Appreciate your effort on those days, and check a day of practice!
Here’s an example of an entry I wrote:
“Taking a few moments for myself by doing meditation made me feel… calmer. Sleepier too. More present through the breathing from my lungs. Through the weight of my body on the sofa. Through my surrounding sounds. And just being one with them. Being okay with being there in its presence. Sharing that space with nature as we are meant to. That’s rare for me. If I keep practicing, I can become it.”
Returning to this entry motivates me to meditate, especially on the days I find it hard to.
Meditation is a gradual learning and healing process. It nourishes the soul and teaches the art of acceptance. Don’t be discouraged if you feel your thoughts control you at first. Trust me, this is natural. Our mind is used to racing at incredible speeds and doesn’t know how to comprehend stillness yet.
But the beauty is that it is capable of it. With one meditation session at a time.