You’ll hear me talk about it until I’m blue in the face, and being a black man that’s pretty hard to do, but meditation is the best thing that has happened to me. You’ve probably heard plenty of health nuts, life coaches, yogis, and so on, talk about the benefits of meditation, but have you heard from an NFL player?
Rarely do we have time to stop and do something that seems as frivolous as meditation, and if you’re using the recent free time from COVID-19 as an excuse to start, then that’s fine, but let’s be honest, everyone has 10 minutes to meditate. However, I’m not here to burst your bubble. I’m also not here to hit you with a laundry list of reasons why you should meditate. Chances are if you’re reading this post, you already know the benefits of meditation, but let’s list them out.
- Reduces Stress
- Control Anxiety
- Enhancing Self Awareness
- Reduces Memory Loss
- Improves Sleep
- Decrease Blood Pressure
Honestly, the list goes on and on, but sometimes the list of benefits doesn’t help us get the task done. Therefore, as a meditation advocate, I wanted to share five tips on what I do to make meditation a successful and painless experience.
Start with five minutes.
We all have five minutes. If you’re cooking dinner and waiting for the oven to preheat, sit down and try meditating. If you’re waiting for your friends to call you back or your new game on your Xbox to download, sit down and try meditating. A lot of people think that they have to be entirely zen for twenty minutes for meditation to be worth it, but when you start meditation, it should be reasonably comfortable. If you want to increase periodically, then go for it, but even if you feel five minutes is too easy, I recommend you start there. Start small; you can always work up and will feel like you’re making progress.
Meditate first thing in the morning.
It’s natural to get swept up into the busy workday and put off meditating until later, but you know as well as I do that will most likely lead to you not meditating at all. It’s also important that you meditate in the morning because the clarity, self-awareness, and stress-relieving qualities of meditation will set you up for a more productive day. Set a reminder or use a morning routine that you already have to accompany meditation. For me, I don’t have my first cup of coffee until I complete mediation, and we all know I need that first cup of coffee.
Count your breaths.
If you’re doing unguided meditation, this will help you stay present and in the moment. Close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth. That’s one. Repeat this process with deep breaths until you get to ten and then start over. Breathing isn’t about seeing how high you can count until you lose track; this is about staying into tune with your body, your mind, and the present moment.
Come back when your mind drifts.
Your mind is going to wonder, primarily as you work for a longer time. We are human, and we spend a lot of our mental capacity analyzing the past and planning for the future. Very rarely are we in the present moment, in stillness and silence, with ourselves for an extended time. There is no problem with drifting, and when you do gently guide yourself back to the present moment and back to your breathing.
Don’t worry about “being good” at meditation.
Thoughts and feelings are going to come and pass. Don’t worry about being the best at mediation. It’s not about who can meditate the longest or getting to this level of zen that you don’t even understand. Most people don’t even know what it means to be good at meditation; still, they agonize over their mind drifting or body fidgeting during the exercise. It’s ok not to be perfect, complete the practice and stick with it for the benefits that are sure to come.
Mediation isn’t always a breeze, and sometimes it’s not even peaceful, but it’s still worth it to take a moment for yourself, relax your mind and body, and be present. I encourage everyone to start today and never stop.