I’ve been meditating on and off for the past ten years. It wasn’t until late last year that I started getting consistent about my practice.
There are two big reasons why I made it a daily habit. First, I joined a group called The Catalyst Collective. As part of the 8-week pilot program we were asked to do the following things daily: write, get 20 minutes of physical exercise, and meditate.
I’ve always liked meditation. In theory it’s so easy – just sit there and breathe? No problem! I quickly came to notice that dropping into a meditative state is not as simple as it seems. With personal coaching from Palomi Sheth I’ve been able to take my sessions deeper through regular practice mixed with a variety of visualization exercises.
Step 1: Calm and center the physical body. A solid technique for this is to do a body scan.
Step 2: Become aware of your mind’s activity.
Notice, then release, the crazy parade of thoughts and feelings going through your mind. Releasing these thoughts is key and tends to be the most challenging part of meditation, for me at least.
One technique that’s worked for me is to imagine each thought as a balloon. After identifying the thought, I acknowledge it – then release the balloon from my head space.
Another successful technique is to view your thoughts as a film reel. Observe the film as it plays, then move yourself further from the screen.
These first two steps usually take me twenty minutes or more before I drop into a meditative state.
Some nights it doesn’t work at all. In the Catalyst group we talked about even doing a few minutes of deep breathing to get the habit going. And it worked! I saw results – those few minutes spent sitting and breathing helped me relax and recenter right away.
Since then, I’ve made an effort to meditate every evening right before bedtime. Many people find that mornings are equally if not more effective. Here are three ways meditation has helped me and how it can be beneficial to your lifestyle.
I’ve been coping with high levels of anxiety my entire life. In the past few years I’ve discovered new ways to manage and avoid compounding it. Some would call it a flaw, others a feature. Either way, meditation has helped me to remove myself from the craziness. It helps me to learn that the things I fret over are not worth worrying about at all.
One of my favorite exercises is to visualize a set of Jenga blocks. When I see the initial stack, the blocks are all out of order. They form a jagged tower and it’s about to tip over. As I continue to breathe, the blocks align. This exercise is incredibly centering and goes great after steps 1 and 2 above.
Improves focus and concentration.
It’s ironic that during meditation, I focus on nothing at all. Yet in my daily life, meditation helps me to focus on one thing at a time and give it 100% of my energy.
There are countless other benefits. Meditation has been proven to support the immune system, increase happiness, and slow the aging process. If you’re new to meditation don’t worry about doing the right type or having the right tools (i.e. the latest app).
The best technique is age-old and strips everything else away: simply sit comfortably, close your eyes, and breathe.