As I mentioned in my New Years Resolution post, I am taking a meditation workshop. Halfway in, I have a few tips I’ve learned that have been helpful to me thus far. The practice I have been learning is called mindfulness meditation. While I am not Buddhist, I do like the Buddhist perspective and the simple, straight forward way they look at life: To be human is to suffer, here is how to reduce suffering. What’s not to like about that?
My current knowledge of this practice is rudimentary at best, but the jist is basically: notice your thoughts, notice your body, notice your feelings. When you are mindful of what’s going on, you then know it’s not in your control but you are in control of how you react to things. I see quotes like this constantly on Instagram and Pinterest:
When you look at it that way, this practice is a more intentional and mindful version of what are always telling ourselves.
So if you have praticed mediation before and found it difficult (hands up), here are a few nuggets I will share that have helped me. Or, if you have never practiced meditation, these are a few good starting points:
1. Just sit and be quiet.
Every other meditation I have been taught always stresses pushing all thoughts away. Just sitting in silence is much more laid back. If one thought keeps popping up, don’t freak out: My mind is spinning, I suck at this! Nope, just sit there and chill the eff out. Our minds move quickly as we are products of our culture and environment and it takes effort to change that.
2. Breath isn’t the only place to center your focus.
For me, breath focus can cause anxiety. Focusing on my hands, though, is very calming. Performing a body scan, staring at the back of my eyelids and counting up and down from 1-10 is also nice. There are plenty of tools you can use to maintain focus.
3. Don’t let frustration get the best of you
I am an antsy, fidgety person. Always have been, according to my parents. The act of settling in and calming down often brings forth all the tiny annoyances in your brain or body. But that’s okay. In this workshop, we are learning to just notice those feelings and not get attached them. I think that’s a pretty powerful revelation.
4. Have a support system in place
Now, I didn’t really learn this in the workshop, but because I am taking it with friends I’ve been held accountable. I have a sounding board when things are tough and people to share my joy with when things are great. Having someone who understands your goals and can help you work through them is invaluable!
I still consider myself a beginner, but I will be back with an update eventually. Happy meditating!