Last week, I shared a way to supercharge your therapy. Here’s another powerful way to add to your own peace and well-being. This is especially helpful in between counseling sessions and in preparation for counseling sessions. This secret weapon is meditation.
I think a lot of people are afraid of meditation. I am not exactly sure why perhaps because it seems mysterious and is often part of a religious practice. While many religions do have ways to practice meditation, what I am referring to doesn’t have to be a religious or spiritual practice at all. If you are religious or spiritual, there is usually a way to weave your beliefs within your meditation. For our purposes here, I am focusing on simple practices meant for mental health and well-being. Please feel free to consult your spiritual leader if you would like to add that dimension to your practice.
Three years ago, not really knowing AT ALL what I was doing, I signed up for a 10-day meditation retreat. I wanted to learn how to meditate and thought I would jump into the deep end of the pool, rather than dip my toes in. Seriously, I don’t even remember how I found the retreat location, but I signed up and showed up. I knew very little about what to expect. And honestly, it was really hard for me…especially at first. But I did learn one form of meditation and got a great deal of practice. I haven’t kept my practice up perfectly, but I do see a noticeable difference when I meditate.
There are so many ways to meditate that it can be overwhelming. I personally don’t know that any one way is better than the other. What I know is that the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Pictured above is my meditation corner. It is simple and yet it could be simpler. I have a meditation cushion but that isn’t necessary, you could use a folded blanket or small pillow. You don’t even have to sit on the floor, a chair works just as well (and some might argue it is better).
- You find a simple and comfortable position. A quiet location with no distractions would be nice.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your breath.
That is it. If your mind drifts off, just gently come back to your breath. How long you do this is up to you! Maybe you want to try 15 minutes. Maybe even that is too much. Then try 5 or even 2 minutes. If you are just starting and it is way too overwhelming, set a timer (on your phone or computer maybe) for 2 minutes. Shoot for 2 minutes a day for the next 14 days. Then, add 1 minute a week after that, until you build up to 15 minutes. If 15 minutes is too high, go back down to 10. The magic of it is in listening to yourself….what seems manageable for you? If you build up to 10 minutes a day and never ever add any time to that but stick with 10 minutes a day for a year, that is better than shooting for something high that you give up on after a while.
Here are a few other ideas you might consider with YOUR meditation practice (keep in mind that your meditation practice is all your own and there is no right or wrong way to do it):
- Consider having a place that is set up for meditation, as a reminder to take this moment for yourself
- Consider playing some relaxing music or nature sounds
- Some light a candle or incense
- In a simple meditation, there is no need to alter your breath, just focus on it and notice it naturally. But, feel free to research different breathing techniques for deeper breath to mix things up.
- Try to be gentle with your thoughts if your mind drifts….don’t get upset with yourself or angry….just notice the thoughts.
- Perhaps keep a journal to see what you notice
- If you want a guided meditation, there are so many options out there….quite a few are free online
- Some use a mantra to focus their thoughts….which can be a word or phrase you find has meaning for you (or if you have a spiritual leader or book, look to those resources for ideas)
I would love to hear from you. What other ideas or tips would you add? Have you meditated? If not, do you know why not?
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