Meditation & Mindfulness
January 16th 2020
Meditation is slowly becoming more and more prevalent in our society. Whether this is due to an increased interest in yoga, cognitive health, or something else entirely it is a popular topic as of late. However, there is a fair amount of confusion around meditation, some people think it’s not worth their time, it’s only something “spiritual” people do, or they simply don’t know where to begin. This is probably due to the fact that a quick google search provides you with an overwhelming amount of information on this topic which makes it difficult to know where to start. Therefore, in this post I will do my best to clarify what meditation is, share techniques that have worked for me, explore the main benefits, and give you some advice for bringing the practice into your life more.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is generally thought of as a person seated in a meditative pose, with there hands in a specific gesture and bliss written all over their face. Unfortunately, this view tends to give rise to the idea that meditation is an achievement or something that we can attain. However, in reality, this isn’t the case, meditation is simply a skill that you can improve through practice, it is much more of a journey or process than a destination.
Down below is the definition that Merriam Webster has for the act of meditating.
Meditation – engaging in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of awareness (1)
However, here is our preferred definition based on our personal experience and training.
Meditation – the act of harnessing the energy of the mind and focusing it on one single object or task
There are many paths that one can take to embark on the meditative journey, none of which are more right than any other, only different. Just like most things in life you have to figure out what works best for you. Here are Renee and I’s favourite meditation techniques that we’ve found helpful:
Meditation practices in which you focus your mind on a specific breathing technique or style. Some examples are square breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and ujjayi breath (the standard yoga breath).
Positive simple statements that reflect something that you would like to achieve or become, they can be stated aloud or internally. For example “I love myself” or “I am powerful”. Also, do your best to avoid a double negative such as “I am no longer going to be lazy” which is much better stated as “I am productive with my time”.
Relaxation or Body Awareness
This includes listening to guided meditations or taking a bath without distractions allowing yourself to completely relax. Also laying in Shavasana (the pose is typically taken at the end of a yoga class) counts because while doing this pose you attempt to release all tension from the body and mind.
Time in Complete Silence
Typically done in a comfortable seated position (so that you don’t fall asleep). In which you simply sit by yourself doing your best not to talk, think, look at anything, or allow any other distractions into your mind.
These are just a few of the routes that you can take to begin or enhance your meditation practice, however, there are many more out there.
The Main Benefits of Meditation
It lengthens your attention span (2)
Increases your ability to focus
Improves the quality of your sleep
Reduces stress and anxiety (3) *For an in-depth look at stress click here*
May reduce memory loss (6)
Helps you overcome addictions and addictive behaviours (7)
Advice for Starting Your Meditation Practice
My advice is to set yourself up to succeed. Start with a simple technique and a short duration, in the beginning, don’t overwhelm yourself. Pick an appropriate time of day as well as a place to meditate that will be consistent and you can commit to. Begin with one minute a day and allow your practice to naturally progress from there. Also, choose a style or technique that you are drawn to, not just something someone else recommended, do what works for you.
Lastly, just so you know it is perfectly okay to miss a day of meditation or even multiple days sometimes. The important thing is that you return to your meditation practice, not that you have a perfect streak of days. Your consistency will improve in relation to how much you value meditating. For example, I’ve been practicing meditation for almost 10 years and still miss days. In the past, I’ve beaten myself up for it which as you and I both know is not ideal. So over time I learned that simply choosing to dive back into my meditation practice, led to a stronger and more consistent practice. Therefore, I encourage you to not dwell on missed time, it’s not worth your energy and in my experience will only hinder your practice.
I highly encourage you to join our mailing list down below, if you haven’t already. By doing so you’ll receive a free guided meditation from our upcoming cd that will help jumpstart or enhance your meditation practice. However, I mainly hope that you at least try to start a meditation practice even if it’s only 3 mindful breaths or 1-minute a day of gentle relaxed breathing. Consistency outweighs duration and anything is better than nothing. If you found this post super helpful please share it with friends, family, or anyone else you think could benefit from reading it. I wish you the best of luck with your life and your practice this year.
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