Meditation Tips for People who don't Meditate
I talk about meditation a lot. But not intentionally. I casually mention it, the way someone might reference working out that day or washing their hair. Because for me, it’s like washing my hair. Or taking a bath. This is because I meditate almost every day in my bathtub. It’s a major component of my getting ready process, which allows me to justify the two hours it takes me to get ready as “self-care”. If I’m chatting with a friend and we’re supposed to meet at a certain time, I’ll say, “I have to take a bath and meditate first.” Similar to the way someone will say, “I’m going to work out and shower and then we can meet.” Meditation has become my constant companion, so it shows up in casual references I make all the time.
The cool thing about that is people ask me about meditation all the time. Regular meditators will say, “Oh, which method do you use?” or “OMG what app do you prefer?” This is because there are so many methods and so many apps – some of the apps are so buzzed about, it’s almost like talking about a new Netflix series with fellow meditators.
Non-meditators will say, “What does that mean, you meditate in the bath?” Followed by a garden variety of skeptical responses:
1. I can’t meditate because I can’t quiet my mind.
2. I’m too busy to meditate.
3. When my mind slows down, I’ll begin meditating.
4. I tried it and it didn’t work for me.
If you’re having any of those reactions while reading this, GOOD. I felt that way about meditation most of my life. So I never meditated until 4 years ago. I believe you find meditation when and if you are meant to. Meditation is not for everyone, but everyone CAN do it, if they are willing. I’m going to share my story of how meditation found it's way to me and I'll give some tips, links and references in case you’re feeling the gentle pull toward meditation.
The first time I truly tried to meditate on my own, I gave myself a panic attack. I laid on my bed and inhaled long breaths rapidly and exhaled as fast as I could, so I could get more breaths in. Everyone talked about deep breathing during meditation, so I assumed you had to breathe long and hard for it to work. I was trying to center my mind while breathing and all of a sudden I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t breathe. I was on my bed gasping for air. Meditation wasn't working for me. I googled “Panic attack while meditating.” Turns out, I filled my lungs with so much air and forced it out so fast, I sent myself into hyperventilation. I didn’t attempt meditation for another year. A new exercise routine should be hard. Meditation shouldn't be.
My path to regular meditation began with Oprah & Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Free Meditation Challenge. They started the free series a few years ago and my good friend Marie posted about it on my Facebook wall. I had not truly meditated in any sort of regular way before that. When I saw that post, it caught my attention. In that moment, I was willing, so I signed up. I had been encountering more and more people talking about meditation and the act of having it posted on my wall created some form of peer pressure. And it was Oprah, how do you say no to that? I went for it, and it changed my life. That's how meditation found its way to me.
The 21 Day Meditation Challenge actually made meditation simple. Each day you get a new meditation delivered to your e mail or the app (yes, they have an app) and Oprah starts out by telling a short story based on the day’s topic. Then Deepak comes on and tells you what the focus is and how to do the meditation. He gives you a short mantra to repeat silently in your mind to keep the focus. Then you meditate for about 10 or so minutes. Oprah and Deepak lovingly guide you into it, so I felt motivated to do it. I didn’t feel alone on my bed hyperventilating and not knowing what I was supposed to do. It was a gentle process. There were no rules, no requirements, no promises and it was free.
After the 21 days were over, I was craving the balance it brought me. Those meditations were the highlight of my day. I didn’t always want to do them and I missed a few days, but when I did them, it calmed something inside of me. I can’t describe it, but it worked. Also, it changed the way I thought about meditation -- because I was always so afraid of it. The challenge opened my mind to the idea of meditation, and I learned that meditation didn’t have to be a certain way. There’s no right or wrong. There’s no perfect way to meditate – which is why it’s called a meditation “practice”! Since then, Oprah and Deepak continue to release a few 21 Day Free Meditation challenges a year. There’s one going on right now – linked above and below.
Once I began that act of regular meditating, I have found my way into a lot of different ways to mediate. There are apps with guided mediations (linked below), one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Gabby Bernstein has a bunch of meditation tutorials and guided meditations on her website & YouTube. My personal favorite thing to do is search for different meditations on YouTube. There are walking meditations, body scanning meditations, gratitude meditations, blessing meditations, forgiveness meditations and my favorite – abundance meditations (tapping into the universe to send you some cash). That's a whole other blog post! I may have oversimplified this a bit, but if you are interested in more details about any type of meditations, I’ve listed some resources below or e mail me firstname.lastname@example.org.
The most important point I want to make:
I’ve learned meditation isn’t about being so spiritual or centered. You don’t have to be sitting up straight in a chair or having your thumbs meet your index fingers in some Lotus or Goddess pose. It isn’t about having to have a quiet the mind before you do it. The practice of meditation can help quiet the mind. When I talk about meditation a lot of people tell me they don’t have time or are too busy. I get that. Some days I really don’t have time to meditate. However, on the days that I can do it, time seems to expand. Deepak Chopra says meditation gives you time back into your day. Here’s why: meditation can help improve concentration and reduce stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety are time eaters--we waste time worrying and projecting about the future rather than doing the task in front of us.
Sometimes the biggest benefit I get from meditation is a shift in perception. It gives me a pause before I act out on anger or fear -- like wanting to yell at the person on the customer service line when something wasn't covered by my insurance. Some clarity swoops in and it's like, "you can't yell at her because it's not her fault." I remember, "if you're really bitchy to someone, they really won't help you". On the days I meditate, I get an extra second that allows me to choose how I want to react to someone ahead of me taking a really long time at the self check out in CVS. I want to sigh and make a scene, but I remember that's not helpful and it won't make them move faster. It also makes them feel bad. Or if someone doesn't let me into their lane while driving, I don't have to give them the finger. That's the last thing anyone needs, another angry driver. On days when I meditate, I remember that before I act.
A meditation practice will find you when you are open, curious or willing to try it. If you’ve read this far, you are most likely a meditator or interested in trying it out!! The slightest bit of willingness to try something new can open up the channel. Also, there’s not a time requirement in order to receive the benefits of meditation. Even if you do it for just a minute, you will have benefits. You can literally shift your energy and focus in one minute by doing some quiet breathing and focusing on something that brings you joy. Or look up. If you’re walking around looking at your phone, just take a few seconds to stop, look at the sky and take a breath. That’s a form of meditation.
Wherever your meditation path takes you, let it be fun and let it happen. And trust that even if it doesn’t feel like it’s working, it’s working. Please reach out with any questions or if you have favorite apps or practices that work for you, send them to me and I'll link below! I'm always interested in finding new ways! email@example.com
Some useful apps:
2. Headspace (everyone LOVES this app): Link to Website
3. Stop, Breathe & Think; I use this app. It's easy and some of the meditations are only 3 minutes: Link to Website
4. Transcendental Meditation: This is the Cadillac of meditating -- I have not done this yet, but it's on my to do list for 2017! Basically most celebs you admire practice TM. You take a workshop class (generally $500 and up) and you learn how to do the 20 minute transcendental meditations. They give you your own mantra based on a personal consultation and it's a lifetime guarantee. Literally, they say that! Out of everyone I personally know who does this, they say it changed their lives. http://www.tm.org/
5. A colleague writes for Moneyish.com and recently wrote this article on how meditation helps people in the work world. Perhaps meditate on your morning commute with the help of these apps: Click to read Meera Jagannathan's article on Moneyish now.