Life can be a little crazy at times and attempting to juggle multiple areas of it can be extremely difficult. I’m sure this resonates with most of you, as we all have what feels like a billion things going on at once! An assignment due here, a work project there, dinner with friends up there- how does one keep up? Life is constantly evolving, so at times it feels impossible to keep up; these feelings can turn into anxiety and stress which are things I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So how do we find ways to reduce stress in our busy lives?
One way that I’ve coped the stress and anxiety of life is through the practice of mindful meditation. Think of it as basic meditation, while being in tune with your breath and body! Over time, it has become a regular part of my week due to how I feel afterwards. You may think that meditation is not that big of a deal but let me tell you, the benefits of meditation are mind-blowing! Not only can I vouch for it’s effects but countless big brains and celebrities such as Anderson Cooper practice meditation. Studies indicate that:
- Meditation can have anti-aging effects on the brain
- Meditation can reduce activity in the brain’s default mode network that is responsible for reoccurring thoughts about ones self and mind wandering;
- Which is also why it reduces stress and anxiety. Studies also show that mindfulness meditation also helps reduce the symptoms of social anxiety disorder
There are countless articles all over the internet about mindful meditation, which can make starting the meditation practice a little intimidating. Some tell you how to sit, what to think, there are even guided meditation apps- But I say nonsense to all these rules! In my opinion, meditation is all about doing what feels good to you.
To look at meditation through a different lens, think about all of the enjoyable parts of your daily or weekly routine. Is it washing the dishes? Reading a book? Going for a walk outside? Maybe even scrolling down Instagram? Take note of whatever it is that you enjoy and realize that this is actually a habit that you’ve developed over time.
Habits are a fascination of mine because nothing says “Brain Power” like using your powerful mind to create new habits. It is normally an autonomous action that the brain performs without any recognition from the conscious mind, but what if there was a way to consciously form and break habits? Well, it is 100% possible! If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I highly recommend reading The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do by Charles Duhigg(I did the audiobook version!). To give you a quick run down, a habit is formed through the process of cue, action, and reward. The que might be boredom, the action may be picking up your phone to scroll through Instagram, and the reward is Dopamine being released to create a happy sensation! It’s really as simple as that. Now repeat that cue, action, and reward over and over again- then you have a behavior. Do it automatically and that’s a habit.
I say all this to say that mindful meditation can become a habit over time through the cue, action, and reward system. The reward may not be as powerful as a Dopamine kick, but there is a reward from regular mindful meditation. I find my reward to be an overall feeling of contentment, mental clarity, and just an overall positive mindset. For me, that alone is enough to return to my meditation space and repeat the practice regularly. You may have different feelings or a contrasting interpretation of the practice and let me be the first to say that’s perfectly fine! There is no right way or perfect way to meditate- just do what feels good to you. The frequency, the place or setting, the ambience- this is totally your call! We are all beautifully unique, so what works for me may not work for you, but to get you started with the meditation practice I am going to share my best practices for how I practice mindful meditation.
**Disclaimer: I am not a professional, or meditation expert. I am just someone who has a strong appreciation for the practice and wishes to share with others 🙂
The first step I take when it comes to my mindful meditation practice is to create an ambience that allows for easy relaxation. I usually will meditate on the couch because its most comfortable for me, then I like to put on some light music like jazz or lo-fi hip hop. While I usually prepare a beverage while I am working on an assignment or writing a blog post, I avoid snacking or drinking while meditating because I am so internally focused. The last step I take is to make sure my phone is on silent, my dog is distracted so she doesn’t interrupt me, and my boyfriend is aware that I am meditating
As mentioned before, I usually meditate on my couch in a comfortable position, whether that’s with my legs crossed or stretched out in front of me- the number one thing is that I am very comfortable. I also like to make sure the area is quiet or has some sort of quiet rhythm. In my living room there is a clock, so even when everything is silent I can still hear the ticking rhythm of it. Most importantly, again, make sure there are no distractions!
Meditating is as easy as closing your eyes and breathing. I usually put a lot of focus on my breath and allow my mind to wander. If I do arise with any negative thoughts, I will gently bring my focus back to my breath or the ticking of the clock. I use rhythm and breath as a distraction from negativity and also as a point of focus for my meditation practice.
Frequency and Length
With work, school, and running my website, I don’t have a lot of time on my plate. So lately, I’ve been meditating every other day for up to 15 minutes. The beauty of a mindful meditation practice is that you can do it as often and for as long as you’d like! You can experience the multitude of benefits from meditation in as little as 5 minutes per week.
As mentioned before, there are so many articles online about mindful meditation and how to get started. To read more about this topic, check out some of the articles I’ve linked below:
Plus, there are often times meditation meetups where you can learn how to meditate for free! You can check your local church or do a google search to see what’s available in your area!
I hope this post was helpful and you enjoyed finding out some information about meditation. As mentioned before I am not an expert on this topic and I am still learning something new everyday- but I am here to help! If you have any questions about how to get started, or locating a local meditation meetup, let me know! Thank You so much for checking out this post and I’ll see you next time!