The holiday season is upon and for most of us that means… holiday stress. Between traveling, shopping, cooking, entertaining or all of the aove, chances are this time of year brings along more than just holiday cheer. The chaos of the season doesn’t mean we can forget to take care of ourselves. Loving yourself is one of our 8 Steps to Stomp Out Breast Cancer. Meditation is an easy way to take a few minutes to truly focus on yourself and help assure good overall health— physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
So now… You want to meditate, but you’re not sure what to do. If you’re one who can’t handle too much esoteric sweetener in your spiritual coffee, here’s a great guide to starting up a meditation practice from scratch. The benefits of meditation can be easily outmatched by the frustration of actually trying to meditate. Ever try to bathe an excited puppy? Not easy. It doesn’t matter how your dog got downward or dirty. Let’s make the practice of meditation more accessible so you can actually enjoy it. We’ve got a 12 step guide to meditation to teach you the basics and help keep you sane during the chaotic holiday season!
1. SET A CLEAR INTENTION
Do you really want this? If the answer is yes, commit.
2. ELIMINATE EXCUSES
Wipe away eye-crusties. Blow your nose. Turn off the technology. Apply lip-balm. Go to the bathroom.
3. FIND A COMFORTABLE SEATED POSITION
This could be in a chair or cross-legged on the floor, hips permitting. Rest your hands on the knees. The active word here is comfortable…
4. BUT NOT TOO COMFORTABLE
The point is to focus awareness, not shut it down. Constantly falling asleep is an indication that you need more rest in general. It could also mean you should sit up while you meditate, lazybones.
5. KEEP A TALL SPINE
Inhale, roll the shoulders up to your ears. Exhale, roll them bad boys back and down. This stacks the head atop your neck while floating the shoulders over hips. Consider this a neutral, tall spine. Every time you feel yourself hunching forward or slumping, reset your spinal situation with this inhale/exhale rolling shoulder magic.
6. GENTLY CLOSE THE EYES
7. MAINTAIN A SIMPLE BREATH
No rush or pause. You can start out with a few full yogic Breaths. For meditation, nasal breathing makes it easier find a smooth, even pace. If you need to sigh once in a while, go for it. You will not be docked points. ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS FOLLOW THE BREATH IN AND OUT. Focus on the area between your nostrils and your upper lip. Observe the sensation of the air entering and exiting your body as it passes over this spot. Let this be your default. It may seem easy, but the mind often wanders in pursuit of everything else. When you realize awareness has drifted, gently guide it back to the breath.
8. GIVE IT TIME
There are days when closing my eyes is like flipping over an old log. Thought bugs scatter and burrow deep into the pulp of my brain. For these first few moments, I’m just trying to stay calm while my mind finds equilibrium.
9. OBSERVE WITHOUT JUDGEMENT
The difference between observation and judgment is the attachment of meaning. Don’t try to dissect the WHY, HOW, or WHERE. What happens when you chase rabbits? You’ll end up barreling down rabbit holes every time.
10. DON’T GO TO YOUR THOUGHTS, LET THEM COME TO YOU
When they arrive, avoid holding on. Meditation is like playing a game of chicken with your mind. Try not to react when the crazies knock you down. Just calmly refocus back on awareness of breath.
11. SHIFT HAPPENS
Distractions create discomfort, which causes frustration, which triggers feelings of failure. This is a common pitfall. Observe the reaction (HULK SMASH!!!) and pattern your response (just breathe). There is no fault, only blame. Give yourself credit instead.
12. MOVE IF YOU MUST — JUST NOT TOO MUCH
Not everyone who meditates is a serene-faced monk glowing in the light of eternal peace. Legs fall asleep. Itches fire up. Shoulders slump. It takes time to sit comfortably for extended periods of time.
To that point…
START SMALL — Seriously, five minutes a day is a great start. You’ll feel better adding on than taking away.
TAKE YOUR TIME — It’s easy to rocket off once the alarm sounds. Don’t jet off to the next appointment. Slowly unwind yourself. Take some deep breaths. Stretch out.
REMEMBER THIS SHOULD NOT BE TORTURE — This is supposed to help you de-stress so if you need to stop because you’re just not feeling it, follow that intuition. Cultivating meditative sensitivity includes listening to your truth, especially if that truth is “not right now, OK?”
Now, picture yourself in the photo above and get to meditating! If you need a little extra help, check out our friends at Headspace. Headspace is a “gym membership for the mind” and walks you through meditations online or on your smartphone; the perfect kickstart to your meditation practice!
Source: Mind Body Green