How often do you find yourself thinking about the past, or worrying about the future? Meditation can help you snap back into the present moment.
You may be participating in Firefly's Mindfulness Challenge this month, so I want to take a moment to explain the difference between meditation and mindfulness since they’re very similar. Mindfulness, in a nutshell, is the act of focusing on being in the present, and being aware of your surroundings.
Meditation is a practice used to focus your mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. To achieve meditation, one must practice many techniques, one of which is mindfulness.
Meditation can be helpful in: starting your day with positivity and clarity, effectively managing stress, reducing strain on the heart, and falling asleep at night.
Some ways to practice meditation include:
Mantras: Mantras have been around for over 3,000 years, and they work because the messages they convey begin to influence the way we live, if we let them. Simple words and phrases have the power to interrupt negativity and invite change into your life.
Here are some examples of mantras. Keep in mind that a mantra is most effective if it's meaningful to you, so make it your own. You might even use song lyrics or a quote from someone you look up to.
I am grateful for all that is unfolding in my life and all that is yet to come.
I am enough.
I deserve to be loved.
Just keep moving.
Walking Meditation: Sitting still for long periods of time isn’t for everyone. For those of us who are fidgety, or generally don’t enjoy sitting, try a walking meditation instead. Walking meditation involves deliberately thinking about the way you do a series of actions that you usually do without thinking. As you walk, notice the following:
the lifting of one foot
the moving of the foot forward from where you’re standing
the placing of the foot on the ground
the shifting of weight
...you get the idea! Focus your attention on your speed, where your arms fall, and when your mind wanders.
Body Scan: A body scan can be done in as little as five minutes or as long as 45 minutes, and can be performed while lying down or sitting. It involves taking the time to notice and sense pressure, tightness, etc. on every part of your body from your toes to the crown of your head.
Be sure that you’re taking deep, cleansing breaths, and allow every part of you to soften with the goal of reaching total relaxation.
Yoga Asana and Pranayama (Breath Extension or Control): Yoga and meditation both involve focusing on the breath, and are rooted in the same ancient practices. The physical practice of yoga postures (asana) can serve as a moving meditation as you link your movements to your breath.
Breathing is something we can control and regulate, and it’s imperative to life. When we take slow and deep breaths, we tell our body and brain that everything’s okay; muscle tension starts to melt away, oxygen delivery improves, blood pressure lowers, and endorphins are released.
Try pranayama for yourself with the 4-7-8 exercise. Prepare by sitting comfortably and taking a few deep breaths, then:
Exhale completely through your mouth
Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a count of four
Hold your breath for seven seconds
Exhale completely to a count of eight
Repeat until you feel your body relaxing
Meditation can be tailored to whatever works for you and your schedule. For some people, morning meditation is best, for others a nighttime routine can help lull them to sleep. Or you might find that meditating throughout the day works best.
The most important part is making time for meditation - set reminders on your phone and don’t let yourself make excuses. Can you spare five minutes for a better version of you to take on the day?
There are lots of tools to help you meditate:
A Mala - Also known as prayer beads, are useful in helping to count breaths, and can be worn as a reminder to meditate.
A chair or cushion - Being comfortable as you sit is extremely important. A chair might work for some, while a soft pillow might work for others. Test out different options to see what works best for you.
Meditation apps - Not sure where to start? There are tons of apps out there for every budget, including free ones! One of my favorites is Insight Timer.
To help you get started, check out Firefly's Recharge Your Body Battery online course, which includes yoga practices, guided meditations and journaling practices. Use coupon code MAY25 to get $25 off when checking out in the month of May.