Don’t let the rumors fool you—learning proper meditation practices isn’t as hard or complicated as it sounds! Glitter Guide contributor, Kaleigh Glaza, shares her own insight alongside that of a professional yogi below.
Many people use the beginning of a new year to jump-start physical health goals. However, you can’t neglect your mental health either! Doing things that make you happy, achieving self-set goals, spending time outside and meditating, all give you a great boost of endorphins and a sense of accomplishment. And even though meditation is actually one of the easiest of those skills to do, many people are intimidated by integrating meditation into their lives.
You don’t have to be though! Meditation has many physical and mental benefits you won’t want to miss out on. Here are some easy ways to get started with meditation, straight from an expert yogi.
- Give yourself an uninterrupted space: Turn your phone on airplane mode. Set aside a dedicated space for meditation only. Dim the lights. These seem like simple moves, but Mary Tilson, the Yoga and Wellness Director at Nihiwatu on Sumba Island in Indonesia, also encourages people to make a list of everything they have to do or think about before they start meditating. This will help you get those thoughts out of the way before you begin. Also, set the timer on your phone, so you don’t have to open your eyes even to check the time.
- Pick your best seating: Tilson, who also leads yoga retreats in countries including Nicaragua, Cambodia and Mexico, cautions that not everyone is relaxed in the seated cross-leg position. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable in that seated position naturally,” Tilson explains. “Yoga was designed to prepare our body to sit more comfortably in meditation. So, I always start with a few stretches or even a full yoga practice to get centered. You can always use blocks or kneeling benches or even a chair!”
- Set real expectations: Once you find your comfy, quiet spot, it’s time to set your breath. Tilson recommends not being too hard on yourself. “A lot of times people have the misconception that you need to have a completely still and clear mind,” she says. “Then they get frustrated when thoughts pop up. You won’t be in a state of bliss the whole time! Notice what thoughts come up and acknowledge them, but focus on coming back to your breath.”
- Use all your senses: Aside from sight and sound, by engaging another sense, like smell, you can really hone in on your breathing. Try using essential oils that contain scents like lavender, peppermint or even eucalyptus, to create a soothing environment. You can rub these oils on your hands and inhale, then also use them to relieve sore or stiff muscles.
- Seek out help: Tilson recommends working with a teacher if possible, particularly if it can be one-on-one. If you can’t get in the classroom, apps like 1 Giant Mind can talk you through meditation bit by bit. Websites like YogaGlo also gives paid subscribers full access to a whole library of yoga classes, guided meditation and yoga philosophy talks. These will help you keep up with meditation and help you learn.
- Jump in fully: If you really want meditation to make a difference, you have to make it a lifestyle. One way to jump-start this is to head to a retreat, like those that Tilson runs. “It’s a lot more than just what you do on the mat,” says Tilson. “At a retreat, you start to experience yoga as an entire lifestyle, and it gets you into a good routine. The biggest thing that meditation teaches you is to be completely present. A lot of the suffering we have in our daily lives is because we are worried about things in the future or past. All of those things are completely out of our control. With meditation, you are constantly reminded to be continually present, and ask yourself what is really making you happy right now.”
With just a few minutes of meditation, you can help get your mental health goals for 2017 on the right track. You might just find an extra bit of happiness, too!