Yoga and meditation are more popular than ever for their ability to relax both your body and your mind. We all need some of that in our busy modern work culture that has us rushing around all day long and answering emails every evening and weekend, not to mention during normal work hours. All the cool kids are embracing the art of meditation and there is a very good reason: it is considered to be extremely effective at helping you cope with stress. There definitely isn’t a single person who is working today and not feeling some sort of stress, so you should be meditating if you want to feel better and calmer at the office and at home. Meditation is one of those things that is simple in theory but is actually super hard. It involves sitting quietly with your eyes closed and just simply being. Sounds easy, right? But many of us struggle with the quiet because we’re so used to our busy schedules. Follow this how-to guide and start your own meditation practice today to reclaim the lost art of relaxation. You will be so glad you did.
1. Start Small
Many people meditate for an entire hour, whether at home in a quiet place or attending a special class or workshop. But an hour can feel very overwhelming if you’re new to the practice. It’s a long time to be essentially doing nothing. So start with 10 or even 5 minutes a day. It’s not the quantity of time; it’s the quality of the meditation. Remember that and don’t beat yourself up if even 5 minutes seems super difficult.
2. Decide What Time of Day Works Best
Some people like to meditate as soon as they wake up in the morning. It’s super easy to do this since you can just sit on your bedroom floor as soon as you open your eyes first thing. You set a timer on your iPhone so you don’t have to distract yourself with checking the time constantly. If you don’t even have an extra 10 minutes in the morning because your schedule is jam-packed, you can sneak away into an empty conference room at lunch or even a bathroom stall and meditate there. Or you can find a few quiet moments before going to bed. Just make sure you find the time.
3. Realize That We All Have 5 Free Minutes
We get it. We’re all busy and biting off way more than we can chew all the time. But we definitely have 5 spare minutes a day. Don’t allow yourself to think your schedule doesn’t allow for meditation. That’s just an excuse. When something is hard, we always find reasons why we shouldn’t do it. But meditation is so beneficial: it decreases cortisol (the hormone which is responsible for stress), it helps you understand how you’re feeling and where you are in relation to your surroundings, and it can make that horrible cold you caught seem less awful, to name just a few benefits.
4. Know Your Mind Will Wander And It's Okay
Meditation is considered the art of doing nothing because you’re simply sitting down and closing your eyes. But there’s just one problem with that: we have minds, right? And our minds are always busy thinking and jumping to conclusions and worst-case scenarios. When you’re new to meditation, you will most likely start thinking that you hate it and you find it hard, you will then start wondering why you can’t possibly just sit and do nothing. You will think about the fact that you’re still thinking, essentially. Don’t fight it. Soon your brain will relax and your body will, too, and you will literally be doing nothing and loving it.
5. Mediate Lying Down
The traditional meditation pose is done sitting cross-legged but there are no rules. It’s just you in your bedroom, after all. So why not meditate lying down on your back if you would prefer? This is basically the final pose in a yoga class -savasana- which is a form of meditation. If that works for you, then congrats. It’s great that you found a way to meditate that truly works for you.
6. Meditate on The Subway
Who can meditate in a crowded subway car at rush hour? It’s close to 9 a.m. and you’re packed in like a sardine trying to make it to your office on time, or it’s just after 5 p.m. and you want to make it home soon to get a start on dinner. But taking a few deep breaths, even if you don’t close your eyes –well, you’re in public and you might be self-conscious- still counts as a form of meditation. As long as you’re being mindful of yourself and your environment and trying to calm yourself down, it’s meditation. Taking a series of slow and long breaths will definitely ease your stress and make you feel calm even during your crazy commute.
7. Yoga: the Gateway to Meditation
Yoga has been described as a moving meditation. This is completely true. A yoga class, whether it’s a more advanced flow, or a class for beginners that mostly consists of longer held stretches, involves a series of poses and postures that quiet the mind and force you to stay in one place for several minutes at a time. Sounds like meditation, right? If you’re struggling to embrace it in the beginning, try going to a few yoga classes every week. Yoga can be thought of as the gateway to meditation.
8. Work Your Way up to One Hour a Day
An hour of meditation a day is the Holy Grail. You might find it too dull and boring to do this in the beginning and that’s okay. It might take you 3 months, 6 months or even a year of meditating 10-15 minutes per day to finally be ready for an entire 60 minutes. But that’s your journey, and there’s no right or wrong way.
Want to feel calmer every single day of the week and to stop freaking out about the littlest thing at work? You want to give meditation a try. With this how-to guide you will be ready and super prepared to embrace the ancient art of meditation. At first sitting still and doing nothing will feel weird and boring. But you just might fall in love with how zen you’ll feel afterward.