5 Ways to Rev Up Your Meditation Practice (Or finally get one started)
If you’re anything like me, you’ve read all kinds of things about meditation, been inspired by groovy photos of people blissfully meditating, and even maybe done a few yoga classes or meditation workshops. If you’re really anything like me, you’ve blissfully floated home from that workshop, extolling all the wondrous virtues of meditation to your friends and family, and vowed to yourself to start meditating regularly. And then, something happens. Something that sucks you out of your bliss and leaves you feeling like a slight failure. You know what happens, right? Yes, life happens. Suddenly, later that evening, you’re sitting on the couch with a glass of wine feeling like the unenlightened human being that you are. How do other people do it, you might ask? They must have more time on their hands, you think. Well, I’m sorry to tell you, my friend, but they don’t. And yet they still manage to meditate every single day. Are they simply better human beings? Gifted? Enlightened? No. They just do it! As a busy, working mom of three, I’m going to let you in on 5 little tricks that might help you get your meditation groove on. So, stop feeling like a failure and take these 5 simple steps towards everyday enlightenment.
Just do it. You don’t have to meditate for 30 minutes, 20 minutes, or even 10 minutes to get the positive effects of meditation. Chances are, if you are aiming to meditate for that long, you’re probably not meditating at all. Heck. We live in this world. It’s tough fitting that in when you have kids, job, household, a spouse, iphone facebook, twitter, TV, and other distractions. It’s ok if you just meditate for one minute at first. I know this sounds pretty useless, and some meditation “experts” might come out of their Zen zone to scoff at this, but let me tell you why one minute is totally enough in the beginning. First, this will get you doing it at all. Second, you can manage one minute no matter how busy you are. And third, even if you have an especially chattery mind, you can probably quiet it for one minute, with practice. (Yes, some of us might have a hard time quieting our minds even for one minute in the beginning.) So, stop reading this. Go ahead. Sit down, close your eyes, and breathe. Go ahead. We’ll meet back here in 60 seconds...
Distract your mind, to focus your mind. John Selby found that concentrating on two different sensations in your body while meditating will quiet your chattery mind most effectively. In other words, don’t just focus on the breath moving in and out of your nose. In addition to that, focus on the air filling your belly, and the air leaving your belly. Do this, and you will find peace more easily. It’s surprisingly easy to stop your loquacious mind when you are noticing two different bodily sensations (It’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time!). In other kinds of meditation, for example meditation with mantra chanting, it is incredible how you can meditate, chant a mantra over and over again, and still catch yourself going through your mental to-do list. But, believe me, it’s so horrifically possible. So, next time, focus on your breath moving through your nose and your belly moving in and out. I dare you to think about anything!
Be opportunistic. Ignore everyone who insists you must meditate in the early morning. Meditate whenever you find the time! Those night owls out there might find it easier to meditate late at night. Stay-at-home moms might find it easier to meditate at 10am after the kids are gone at school. Just meditate! Who cares when it is!? Do what works best for your busy time schedule. Enough said.
Poop yourself out. Exercise before your meditate. Exhausting your body before you meditate will prep your mind for meditation. It will power-out your nervous system, relax you, and prepare your mind to calm down and focus. You don’t have to do yoga, although this is especially helpful. (I recommend kundalini yoga, but any yoga is great.) Even jogging, walking, or a good gym workout is great. The key is to challenge your muscles, heart, and lungs, leaving them, and thus your nervous system, essentially exhausted. You will be in the best state to meditate. So if you already have a daily workout routine, just add on that meditation minute (or more) at the end.
You don’t need a shrine; a golden throne will do. Many say you should set up a meditation space with your favorite symbols of spirituality and meditation, such as a candle and a Buddha statue. You know, like a little Zen space. That’s really nice and all, but if you have space issues, don’t despair. I’m here to tell you a little secret: you don’t need a shrine. Listen up, now: You can meditate on the toilet! Yes, I said it. And I’m proud of it. You know why? Because I make meditation a priority. I make it work. I have three young kids and a small apartment. I don’t have room for a meditation space. Usually I meditate in the middle of the living room floor when my kids are gone. However, on the weekends I’m rarely alone and, let’s be honest sometimes the only room to get any privacy (or peace) is the Golden Throne, as I affectionately call it. Sound strange to you? Whatever. I meditate. Do you?