Google "meditation" and you'll get tons of images of people on beaches or on top of a super tall mountain or cliff overlooking beautiful scenery. That's all lovely, but unfortunately, I don't have time in my daily routine for a hike up a mountain or a flight to a coast for a walk down a beach, and you probably don't either.
We don't have to make meditation complicated. There are tons of things that can enhance it, such as relaxing music or a nice candle, but those aren't necessary and can even deter you from trying it at all if you feel like you have to wait until the setting is "just right."
My favorite time to meditate is when I wake up in the morning before I even get out of bed. I don't do anything to prepare for it at all. I just sit up, close my eyes and start saying my mantra.
If you're lucky to get out of bed in time to brush your hair in the morning, that might not be the best situation for you. Maybe you use the first 15 minutes of your lunch break or you meditate before bed.
There are lots of benefits of meditation, but the main reason is to reduce stress. We live in such a high-stress society, which takes a big toll on the health of our internal organs, our skin, our hair and our immune systems.
Meditation reduces stress, which in turn, keeps us healthier and helps our bodies function at their best.
Additionally, meditation can help boost creativity and problem-solving, increase concentration and patience, and help you feel happier and maintain a positive outlook on life.
Why It Works
Meditation gives our bodies a different kind of relaxation than sleep. When we sleep, our minds get to rest, but our bodies stay hyper-aware as a defense mechanism. If your baby cries or someone tries to enter your home, your body instantly responds and wakes you up.
Meditation is like a super deep sleep for your body. By heightening your senses and focusing your mind on the present moment, you allow your body to relax in a way it does not when you sleep. Research says that when it comes to allowing your body to rest, just 15 minutes of meditation is equivalent to 1 hour of sleep.
A Simple Method
You'll find so many different kinds of meditation, but my favorite method is super simple. You don't have to hold your hands any kind of special way. Just sit somewhere, preferably with your back supported, and try to relax any tension in your muscles and your jaw.
- Take a few deep breaths to settle in.
- Then return to a natural breathing pattern.
- Do a full scan of your body and how you feel.
- Take note of all of your senses without judging anything.
- Pick a word to repeat to yourself in your head. This is your mantra.
- You don't have to hold on to your mantra.
- Let yourself forget you are saying it and drift into a relaxed state.
- If you realize you are thinking about something else, just start saying your mantra again.
- At the end, give yourself two minutes before you open your eyes for some gratitude or goal-setting.
- Start with soft movements in your hands and feet, and slowly come back to awareness of the room.
I use a Sanskrit word so I am not heavily attached to the meaning of my mantra and have an easier time letting it go. A couple of my favorite options are "satya," which means "truth," and "ahimsa," which means "non-harming."
Whenever you let go of your mantra and enter a relaxed state, you might not be aware of it. When you start having thoughts again and you realize you're thinking about something else (like what you're going to have for dinner or the cute thing your dog did yesterday), that means that you have just come out of the relaxed state and have released some stress. That's good! A lot of people feel like it's bad to get distracted when meditating, but having thoughts is just a sign of stress leaving your body. There's nothing wrong with it at all.
Some days you might have a deep meditation with lots of rest because your body needs it. Other days you might notice you have a lot more thoughts coming up, and that means you just needed to release more stress that time. No meditation is a bad meditation. You might not always feel better right away, but after a couple of weeks, you'll start to feel a difference.
I was taught this method of meditation by Amy Morrison at Power Life. Check out her cute athleisure clothing line, NamastAmy, and follow her on Instagram @namastamy_kc.
Have you tried meditation before? Do you have a favorite method? If you are in Kansas City, try a meditation class at Power Life and start your free week anytime!
Follow Hayley Hyer @hayhyer
How to Add Meditation to Your Routine was originally published in HAYHYER