This has been an incredible year for me. I embarked on a journey to self-healing and improvement earlier in the year and since then have been forced to face the parts of myself and my life that I’ve been avoiding. This has been both a completely ego crushing yet life affirming experience. What became very apparent to me was just how much my lack of self-love has affected my life in every area in tragically detrimental ways.
I had used meditation in my life before years ago and it was a very potent tool in overcoming a huge life transition I was going through at the time. I had lost touch with it however and only have just very recently picked it up again, mostly due to this new sense of urgency I have to heal the parts of myself that I have been neglecting.
There’s a lot of confusion out there about what meditation is, and what it isn’t. First, meditation is not in support of any religion, and at the same time does not conflict with religion. Truly anybody with any religious – or nonreligious – background can practice meditation without compromising personal belief.
The practice of meditation is truly just the practice of being still and quieting the mind. That is it.
The benefits of meditation are now being acknowledged by scientific research as being effective in treating depression, anxiety, and relieving stress. And the best news is that you don’t have to move to the Himalayas or give up all worldly belongings to master the art of meditation. In fact, just the idea that meditation can be “mastered” is illogical. Benefits can be had in as little as 5 minutes a day, or as often as possible.
How to Meditate:
1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to either sit upright or lie down.
I prop myself up on my bed with my back against the wall with two pillows under each of my legs, folded cross-legged. This is what is most comfortable for me. Lying down in a bed or sitting down or reclined in a chair also works. What is most important is that you can relax fully in whichever position you are in.
2. Close your eyes and begin to breathe naturally.
Imagine that with each inhale you are breathing in peaceful energy, and that with each exhale you are exhaling tension and stress. Begin to release tension in every part of your body, from your head to your toes. Allow this to happen slowly and gracefully, do not force it. Your body will at first begin to feel very heavy in your chair, and eventually you will stop feeling your body at all.
3. Clear your mind of any thoughts.
Begin to release any thoughts from your mind. This will seem difficult at first as the mind will resist quieting down, especially if you are new to the practice. Acknowledge any thoughts that come up and gently let them go, without judgement. Continue this process for the entire meditation while continuing to focus on the breath and relieve tension from the body.
It may seem at first that your entire first few times meditating are spent trying to clear the mind. That is okay and part of the natural process. Just like anything else meditation takes practice, and you will get better over time.
Continue for a set amount of time by setting a timer on your phone or alarm clock. Try for just 1-2 minutes the first few times, building up in time as you continue to practice.
There are tons of free apps in both the Apple and Android markets that provide guided meditations, which can be helpful for beginners. I love the apps Calm and Guided Mind from the Apple store. What’s really awesome about guided meditations is that you can choose a meditation that is aimed at achieving specific states of mind, such as self-love or relief from depression.
Since practicing meditation I have noticed that I am more at peace more frequently. Things just aren’t bothering me like they normally would. I also feel more grounded and connected with nature and myself. Through this practice I am honoring my body and who I really am, which is the ultimate testament to self love.
Let me know in the comments below about your experiences with practices such as this and how they have helped you, or how your first meditation goes! I truly believe that this is an amazing skill that can benefit every person on the planet if they allow it to.