Meditation is an Ahh-mazing practice, but it isn’t always easy. So why bother? A regular meditation practice can help decrease anxiety, stress and depression, while increasing memory, attention, focus and so much more! While my continued transformation is a result of a physical yoga practice, I truly believe that my meditation practice is responsible for changing my life. When possible I include short meditations in my studio classes and always encourage students to explore their own meditation practice. Not sure how to get started? Search online, checkout local yoga studios or try an at home practice.
Tips for an at home meditation practice:
1) Schedule it! Make time in your day and commit to starting a new habit. I recommend meditating in the morning because it is normally quieter, your mind is not as full with thoughts and there is less chance you will be disturbed.
2) Focus on the breath. Deep breaths slow the heart rate, relaxes the muscles, focuses the mind and is a perfect way to begin practice.
3) Move. Consider going for a walk or doing a few yoga poses to stretch tight muscles and tendons allowing you to sit (or lie) more comfortably.
4) Observe thoughts, feelings, sensations and then let them go. When the body becomes still sometimes the mind will run wild! If this happens, really focus in on your breath and allow thoughts, feelings and sensations to go.
5) Pick a specific room or space in your home to meditate. Consider sprucing up the space with candles, cushions or anything else that will help you feel comfortable.
6) Listen to instructional tapes and CDs on meditation. Meditations for life and Meditations for Inner and Outer peace are two of my favourite CDs by Rod Stryker.
7) Practice makes Progress! Meditation is a life-long practice, and you will benefit most by being kind to yourself when a meditation didn’t go “perfectly”. Do the best you can every day, and then let it go! Finally, get into the habit of spending a few moments at the end of your meditation to thank yourself for the opportunity to practice.
Do you already have a regular mediation practice? How has it helped you?
“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.” – Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School Instructor in Psychology.