By Virginia Ross, Courage to Nourish intern
Before I got into meditation, the benefits that were associated with it seemed too good to be true. Meditation touts better sleep, decreased stress, increased mindfulness and self awareness. I thought there was no way that sitting still and making yourself think about nothing for 15 minutes could result in all of these things, but that’s where I was wrong.
The practice of meditation is not about controlling the mind, it is about bringing awareness to the present moment. It is normal for your mind to keep moving with thoughts, but it’s important to acknowledge them, then let them go. This practice of bringing attention to the present moment, and slowing the pace of your mind until you are completely immersed in the present allows you to only focus on the moment you are currently in.
Another focus of meditation is observing your thoughts as separate from yourself. By doing this you are able to think about things in a different way and from a different point of view, maybe allowing you to notice things you hadn’t before. In observing your thoughts, you become an audience member to your own life instead of the star of your show. In this manner you can revisit past situations and reflect on the point of view of yourself but also maybe the point of view of others.
There are many other benefits associated with meditation but this post will focus on the aspects that encourage the mind to slow down and maybe bring some inner peace along the way.
How to start:
- Find a space that makes you calm. Whether that be lying on your floor, sitting in your favorite chair or in the middle of your living room rug. The important thing about finding a space to meditate is that you will be able to focus there, uninterrupted.
- Start with short sessions. Designating 5 minutes of your day to sitting down by yourself and practicing your meditation. Working it into your routine makes it easier to remember. I started by finding 5 minutes in my day on the mat for yoga. Some people find it best to meditate right after they wake up, but it’s all up to your personal style and routine. Try a couple different times a week to see what fits best with you.
- Focus on your breath. No movement and closed eyes is a hard adjustment to make since we are so used to being on high-alert or multitasking many times a day. Try beginning your practice with a breathing meditation so you have something to focus on. It will make it a lot easier to stick with in the beginning and as you continue to gain experience you’ll learn how to guide yourself. Until then, here are some links that provide a good place to start:
Interested in digging deeper?
There are many other styles of meditation and many resources available online, so if you find yourself not clicking with the examples above, search around for others you might like (for example, try movement meditation or focus meditation). Want to learn more about the positive benefits of meditation? Here are some awesome links to click through if you want to learn more.
When Science Meets Mindfulness (article)
The Basics of Meditation (article)