No More Excuses
If you’ve told yourself you want to give meditation a try but find you have more excuses than mindful moments under your belt, here are some tips from Redbook magazine and Timothy McCall, MD:
“I don’t have time.”
You don’t need to do 10 minutes a day. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Start somewhere! It’s easier if you pick a time of day and stick with it. Upon waking or at day’s end are the most common but you can meditate any time of day.
“I can’t turn my brain off.”
You don’t have to! The goal isn’t to stop thoughts. That’s impossible. Don’t fight them but also don’t dive in. Just let them pass through like traffic in the background.
“I tried it once and nothing happened.”
Not every second of a ten minute meditation needs to be deep. Even if you only get 30 seconds of that time immersed in the process, you still have benefit. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing will slow and you are becoming more mindful.
Beginning Meditation Exercise
Sit comfortably but with your back straight – on the floor against a wall, in a chair, even in bed but sit upright. Have a watch or clock or phone (turn it off!) nearby.
With eyes open and a soft focus, take a few deep breaths, feeling your chest rise and fall. Breath deeply so that if someone were next to you they could hear you breathing.
Gently close your eyes and notice the sounds around you. Don’t try and block them but also don’t hyper-focus on them. Just notice them.
Notice how your body feels, scanning from head to toe. Any discomfort or tightness? Don’t block it or hyper-focus on it, just draw your attention to wherever you feel it. You may find your self taking a deep breath or repositioning yourself as you do this.
Breathe naturally and as you inhale, think “in” and as you exhale think “out”. Your mind will wander, thoughts will intrude. That’s A-OK and to be expected. Don’t try and block the thoughts, just notice them and return to “in” and “out”. Some people prefer to focus on a mantra, a word or sound that is repeated over and over. If you prefer a mantra, choose a word or sound that doesn’t have an association for you. For example, if I think “love”, I will automatically call to mind all the people I love and lost love and why we love and on and on. If I choose a non-word, a sound such as “umba”, there is no association to divert my attention.
A key component of meditation is nonjudgment so if you have thoughts or feelings such as “What’s wrong with me, I can’t do this right!” just notice them and let them pass. Remember that the first time you do anything, you are learning and it will take practice.
After a few minutes of focusing on your breath, draw your attention back to your body. Do a body scan and note how you feel.
Notice any sounds or smells.
Gently open your eyes and stretch.
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