By Jessica Graham
You have heard that meditation is good for you. You’ve read a few articles about it or even tried a guided meditation on YouTube. You just know that meditation could help you. It might ease that anxious swirl in the pit of your stomach, sharpen your focus during crunch time at work, or maybe (fingers crossed) improve your less than fabulous sex life. But the idea of starting a daily practice seems daunting and totally out of reach. In fact when you even think about sitting down to meditate you feel more stressed than before. And then you feel guilty and a bit like a failure. Meditation becomes yet another thing you can beat yourself up about. More proof that you are simply not good enough. There goes the swirl in belly again. Couldn’t meditation help with that?
As a meditation teacher I see people go through this cycle a lot. It’s painful and frustrating for the would-be meditators who just can’t seem to get the ball rolling. It’s like getting that cardio in or eating more greens and drinking more water. We know it’s good for us, but for some reason we think we can’t make the shift. Actually we can. You can meditate. Right now. I’ll help you.
I don’t teach meditation to get rich (obviously) or to convert anyone to my philosophy. I teach meditation because it works for me. I was a stressed out, addicted, depressed, and shut-down person before I started meditating. The simple practice of sitting down and meditating once a day transformed my life. Meditation has rewired the way I see myself, others, and the world. There is still work to do, and will be (I imagine) until the end, but my foundation of contemplation is strong and sure. If I can do it, you can do it. You can start right now.
Pull out your phone (or maybe you are reading this on your phone) and set a timer for 5 minutes. Now if you are thinking I don’t have five minutes. I’m busy. I have things to do, please consider this. If this article was 1500 words instead of 500 you’d spend that time reading it, right? Well I hope you would. So, take the extra time I’ve given you by writing a short article to meditate.
Here is a simple meditation you can do right now (If you prefer a guided version try this). Sit in a comfortable position on a chair or on the floor. If sitting isn’t going to work for you lie down flat on your back. Posture should not be a reason not to meditate, so do what you need to do to be comfortable. Use cushions and blankets, lean against a wall, stand in place. Whatever works. Once you are settled start your timer. Your eyes can be opened or closed. Take a few deep breaths and let them out with a sigh. Starting at the top of your head relax your body all the way down to your toes. Don’t forget to release your jaw, shoulders, and stomach. Now focus your attention on the place in your body that feels most relaxed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny spot. It doesn’t matter if most of your body feels uncomfortable. Once you locate a relaxed spot keep your attention on it. You will be pulled into thought. You are a human being. When that happens gently bring your attention back to that relaxed place in your body. Don’t try to quiet your mind. Instead just return to relaxation in the body when you notice you’ve been caught in thought. Everyone thinks. Don’t judge yourself. When the timer goes off you can do this for another 5 minutes (extra credit!) or get up and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
That’s it. Easy peasy. Now do it.