Real Life Ways To Build A Meditation Practice

We all know how en vogue meditation is right now. Unfortunately, while mainstream, most people will tell you they aren’t good at it or that they know they should do it but they can’t get around to it. And when it comes to meditation, this is all of us. In this article, I’ll cover some simple, yet not commonly mentioned, ways to build a meditation practice that sticks.

It is interesting to talk to people about meditation because it is one of those activities that beginners bring so much mental baggage to. I also find that people don’t really know what meditation is, which is completely legit.

There are so many forms of meditation on the market right know, it’s not a wonder the idea overwhelms anyone who might be interested. For example, there is transcendental meditation, zen meditation, walking meditation, kundalini meditation, guided visualization, qui gong, zazen, heart rhythm meditation, vipassana…you get the idea.

For the purposes of this article, we are talking about mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is the simple observation of your own thoughts. As an observer, you don’t engage with them. You just let them pass. Dismiss them and return to your focus which is either your breath or some other concentration focal point in your immediate present state.

Instead of breath, many people use a body scan technique, observing each individual body part as they sit or lay down. Others observe the lights that appear when we close our eyes. Science nerds, these are called phosphenes. Scientists aren’t exactly sure where this light comes from but suspect the light originates from light generated from the cells inside our own eye. Whoa! Regardless of where the light show comes from, it can be a helpful tool in staying on track during mindfulness meditation.

Meditation’s benefits on the mind and body is robust and well documented to say the least. It includes improved mental focus, stress reduction, addiction cessation, insomnia resolution, weight loss, and anxiety and depression relief.

However, the goal of mindfulness meditation is to train our brains to put space between our thoughts and our actions so we can break down our conditioned responses to our feelings about life, many of which cause us stress, anxiety, or anger. Mindfulness also shows us what thoughts our mind goes back to most often or a pattern of thinking that isn’t serving us.

The yoga world overflows with tips and instructions designed to help people get their meditation practice started, enhance it, and the stick with it. So be sure to start your meditation research with a Google search to see what the internet has to tell you and then refer back to this article for a few tips and ideas I haven’t seen on the web.

Pro tip: proper meditation preparation does not require a high colonic, taro card reading, or a sage burning in order for it to work; don’t trust everything you read on the Internet.

Before you even sit down

One of the things I have noticed most often about meditation practices is that people, myself included, aren’t doing the right kind of preparation.  The standard meditation instructions typically go like this: 1) find an easy seated position 2) close your eyes 3) begin by observing your breath…

The funny thing about our brain is that it will find ways to entertain itself while we are trying to quite it. It is very much like a toddler at bedtime in this way. Suddenly we need to fidget, we have an itch EVERYWHERE, we have to go pee, we are hungry oh and also thirsty. We don’t like the guided meditation we chose and want to download a different one. It is too cold/too hot and our hands feel weird. This is the practice. This is all of us.

1. Remember what’s harder than doing nothing

Make a list of all of the things that you have done that are more difficult than sitting still for 5-7 minutes. Have you given birth to a child? Gone to the dentist? Taken a really difficult test? Given a Board presentation? Those are all things that are more difficult and much higher stakes than sitting still for a few minutes.

And if you crash and burn during your meditation session, who cares? No one will know and you can try again tomorrow.

2. Find a comfortable position

Finding a comfortable position, seated or otherwise, for meditation is harder than it sounds. Even people who don’t have chronic aches and pains or an injury have trouble staying seated in meditation comfortably. It’s important to remember a few things about this.

The first is that you should spend time other than when you are trying to meditate deciding what your meditation posture will be. Try it out while you are watching TV. Try different cushions, leaning against a wall, cross legged or straight legged, in a chair or on the floor. The options are endless but meditation time isn’t the time to figure it out. Have a go-to position and the props you need ready before you decide to meditate.

The other thing is that your meditation duration will likely be less than 10 minutes. Much anxiety about comfort comes from the irrational fear that we are going to be stuck in one position forever and we obsess about making sure it is just exactly right since we will be trapped there without any means of escape. Chill, it’s just a few minutes and you can always move if you need to.

3. Figure out what you are going to do with your hands

Not knowing what to do with our hands is a common meditation concern. And, much like with the sitting position, you are going to need to experiment to see what feels best. Some people rest their hands on their knees or clasp them lightly in their lap. Here is a link to the two most common mudras, or meditation hand positions; chin mudra and dhyana mudra.

4. Select your meditation soundtrack

Music for meditation is such a personal choice, I have trouble even recommending anything. Some people need musical melodies, some need silence, monotonous sounds, waves crashing, or birds chirping. Anyway, there is a little bit of all of that in the list of links to meditation soundtracks below.

Moby

moby-og-image meditation music

 

 

 

 

Meditation Master

Meditation-Masters-image-meditation-tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buddha-Bar

Buddha-Bar-meditation-tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sounds of Nature

Sounds of Nature Meditation Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Select your guided meditation

If you decided that a meditation soundtrack isn’t for you, I suggest you start with some guided meditations. There are so many great guided meditation apps on the market right now. Most of them are free with the option to upgrade or make in-app purchases.  I recommend you give these a try to see if one of them works for you.

Insight Timer-Meditation App

InsightTimer-image_meditation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calm

Calm-image-meditation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Headspace

Headspace-image-meditation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Have a light snack

Meditation is hungry and thirsty work. Sitting for 10 minutes really seems to take it out of us and our brain wants to think about how hungry we are. An easy way to shut that thought down is to remind your brain that there is no way it could be hungry or thirsty because you just ate and had some water.

7. Go to the bathroom

Oh hey, we just ate and had some water. Don’t we have to get up and pee now? Nope, because you are going to go the bathroom right before you sit down. Sorry, brain, try again.

8. Set a timer for 7 minutes

This is a guideline. Many people want to start a meditation with just 5 minutes on the clock and if that is what it takes to get them there, than that’s perfect. However, it takes the brain several minutes to settle into the meditation groove, particularly for new meditators, so if you can do 10 minutes do 10. 7 minutes is a nice compromise. Meditation, once you are in it, has the ability to make time meaningless and when the session is over, you may not have much sense of how long you were seated.

9. Stay

Establishing a strong and consistent meditation practice is something that requires physical and mental discipline. Even if your brain refuses to observe and dismiss thought and instead takes you on the guided tour of your most embarrassing junior high school moments, stay. Give your brain something to do by counting your exhales. Use this as an opportunity to make your body comfortable with the idea of stillness.

Want more of this?

Visit the Tips & Tricks section for more great ideas from yours truly.  Then, poke around on the rest of the site to see what else you find that lights your fire. Oh, and don’t forget to comment below with any additional real world tips you have for meditators.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Bullet Thursday–Yoga Tip Resource

Welcome to the inaugural “3 Bullet Thursday” your yoga tip, information, and inspiration resource.

What I’m watching

Does anyone even have cable anymore? Why would you when there is endless content to stream? Anyway, I’m currently working my way through a 13 episode Gaia mini-series on the origins of yoga called YogicPaths. For new yoga nerds, it’s a great primer on where yoga comes from. For advanced yoga nerds, it might be fun to compare and contrast with what you know about the practice. It is interesting and visually beautiful. So check it out.

YogicPaths
Yogic Paths, a Gaia mini-series

When I’m not watching something yoga related, my husband and I are deep into the Longmire series on Netflix. Based on the Walt Longmire mystery novels a dedicated sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyo. Longmire patrols the county, which seems to have a shockingly high murder rate as far as fake rural counties go. Each episode pretty much begins with the line, “Sheriff, we’ve got a body.”

What I’m listening to

I would imagine a lot of you have made resolutions to start or expand a meditation practice in 2018. Mindfulness and meditation are both hot buzz words right now. The Breathing Club podcast is great for beginner meditators or those looking to explore other forms of meditation and expand their knowledge of the practice.

Breathing Club Podcast
Breathing Club Podcast with Patrick Beach and Carling Harps

Hosted by renowned yoga teachers and wellness consultants, Patrick Beach and Carling Harps, the podcast covers meditation (obviously), related books and content, and provides regular guided meditations in a variety of styles.

 Quote I’m pondering

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”– Soren Kierkegaard.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

 

I wonder if the dry cleaner is open

For those of you just catching up, my family and I evacuated to Lodi, California last Sunday when the Northern California wildfires first struck in our hometown of Santa Rosa.

Seven days later and we are still here in Lodi, but packing up to go home to what is left of the town and surrounding communities.

Lodi is just 2 hours away, but here, you would never suspect that anything is amiss back at home. The skies here are blue, the air is fresh, and nothing is on fire.

Our little clan has much anxiety around going home for obvious reasons. What will it be like? When will it feel normal to live there again? How can we go to work if the kids aren’t in school and our nannies are still evacuated? How to we get the utilities turned back on? Do we really need a gas mask? These are all very valid questions and concerns. But what about the seemingly trivial ones?

My morning meditation was plagued with these. A list of questions an concerns harassed me today as I began to anticipate the return home. And they made me feel like a real shit head for thinking them. For example,

“I wonder if my dry cleaner burned down; I have those meetings next week and I really need those dresses.”

Will Amazon still deliver to my house? If not, when will they resume that service?

“I hope I don’t have to start using a different grocery story; it is a complete pain to learn where things are in other stores.”

This can’t be who I am, right? People have lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods, and I’m worried about my work wardrobe, two day shipping, and finding a new milk aisle.

Maybe it’s just too much to even comprehend from this far away. Hopefully, when I’m home and faced with the reality of what happened there, I can be the person who finds meaningful ways to contribute and rebuild.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

Studio Review & A Crock-Pot

Every year for 45 years, members of my very large and geographically scattered extended family have convened at the family cabin on the shores of Lake Pokegama in the woods of Northern Minnesota. Last week, my little family of four joined the rest of “The Wulf Pack” at that cabin for our 2016 pack gathering.

Before we left, I did some digging to find all the yoga one can do that far North. I love visiting yoga studios and Lutheran churches when I travel. By the way, it is infinitely easier to write a yoga studio review than it is to write a review of a Lutheran Church. But I digress.

My search for Northern Minnesota yoga yielded exactly one studio, CENTER Mind Body Fitness in Grand Rapids, MN.

CENTER is not a yoga-only facility. It offers a range of yoga, pilates, TRX, and spin classes throughout the day. The entire Center facility is fantastic and features not only the studios for exercise programming, but also a spa, salon, and cafe.

I’m a purist, so I was in it for the yoga (and the spa treatment I got later). Unfortunately, there was only one yoga class that wasn’t going to interfere with the sleeping and boozing schedule I had lined up for my week.

So, Gentle Yoga with Jenna Hass on Monday and Friday morning it was. Initially, I felt a little guilty missing a week of power yoga classes and substituting something called “gentle yoga,” but I decided that some yoga was better than no yoga and I was on vacation so maybe I could take a vacation from yoga too.

The Practice and the Crock-pot

So I entered the stunning studio space and that is when I saw the crock-pot. Yep, an old school Rival crock-pot right up at the front of the class. Were crock-pots now a midwest yoga thing? We midwesterners love our crock-pots, but this might have been taking it too far.

The practice began without a mention of the crock-pot, so I had to actually make an effort to put that out of my mind until the universe would reveal to me the reason for its presence. Because that is yoga.

Aside from the arctic temperature in the room, the practice was excellent. The sequencing was creative and appropriate for all levels with clear instruction and good timing. It was very much a moving meditation on happiness, and in my case, the crock-pot.

 
I will not think about the crock-pot, I will not think about the crock-pot, I will not think about the crock-pot, I will not think about the crock-pot… 
And then, at the end of the practice, while we all lay in savasana, the crock-pot served up hot river rocks lightly coated in essential oils. Two warm rocks appeared on the upper corners of our mats and we were instructed to place them on chakras that may be in need of some healing.

My chakras were far beyond help, but just holding those warm rocks in that chilly room gave me a whole new perspective on savasana and I was finally able to let go of the crock-pot.

center logo
This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meditation Monday–at Work [Infographic]

I work for an insurance company in California and while my company is fantastic and offers a host of benefits, it hasn’t quite gotten on board with some of the more new-agy business culture trends like onsite nap rooms and meditation spaces.

So when I saw this infographic outlining some easy ways to bring meditation into your regular workday without making it a time-consuming and “awkward-for-coworkers-to-witness” thing, I was eager to share it.

My personal favorites are #2 and #3, because it is amazing what oxygen and not being an a**hole can do for your entire outlook.

Making time for meditation at work will have a positive impact on productivity and happiness. Learn the benefits of meditation and how to find the time.

Source: How to Find Time to Meditate at Work [Infographic]

Moby gave us music for when we panic, and other occasions too

In case you missed it, Moby, you know, the singer songwriter, DJ, electronic and techno musician and all-around good guy, posted more than 4 hours of free music to the Internet for download.

The music is of the ambient genre and as he explains, “it’s really really really quite music for when I do yoga, or sleep, or meditate, or panic.”

Each of the 11 tracks is about 20 minutes long and each one is indeed perfect for yoga, sleeping, meditating, or for when you are losing your shit. Believe me, it will calm you right down.

Download this music here Long Ambients1: Calm. Sleep. — Moby or you can stream it in all the places you would expect–Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Music, Deezer, and Tidal.

Per Moby, “it’s really quiet: no drums, no vocals, just very slow calm pretty chords and sounds and things for sleeping and yoga and etc. and feel free to share it or give it away or whatever, it’s not protected or anything, or at least it shouldn’t be.”

Enjoy everyone and Thank You, Moby!

This article was originally published on GroundingUp.com