Meditation Challenge

I have recently got back into my meditation practice. My new apartment is very conducive to the morning routine I’ve found best sets me up for my day. Every morning I wake up, roll out of bed, drink a glass of lemon water, and head out the door to go for a walk. I’ve only been living at my new place two and a half months but I already love it! I love the neighborhood – quiet, with beautiful older homes and nice landscaping, close to the beach. I leave my cell phone and wallet at home. I walk however long I feel like it, maybe 20 minutes, maybe an hour. When I come home I light some incense and roll out my yoga mat. I love that my apartment has wood floors and the perfect little space for my mat. I do a bit of yoga, free form, whatever I’m feeling, however my body wants to be moved, and then I meditate. I don’t have a fancy meditation pillow, I just grab a pillow from my couch, set it on the edge of my mat and settle in. When I start my day like this, I feel good the entire day.

Mediation has gotten more attention over the past ten or fifteen years, it’s becoming something that people realize they can actually do. It’s no longer some weird thing that monks do on a mountaintop. There are great methods that make mediation more accessible to a more “western” mindset. There has been excellent research conducted that proves it is an excellent antidote to our anxious, chronically stressed, constantly plugged in, fast moving modern lifestyle. It is so important to take some time to pause, let go of everything you’re doing or think you need to do and simply be. Just spend some time with yourself, breathe, check in with how you’re doing, how you’re feeling. Allow for some time and space for stillness and quiet. I think we all innately know this is important, and yet we don’t do it. I know what you may be thinking at this point, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” However, it doesn’t even take a long time to make a big difference. Anyone, even students, moms, and dads can find five, ten, or even twenty minutes a day to meditate.

20 minutes baby

Ok, so you’ve made the time – but what now? At first it might feel just a little too unstructured to simply set a timer, sit, and breathe, but that basically is all mediation is. You may find that once you allow for that time and space, little anxiety bubbles start to stir and rise to the surface and fill that space, or the mind seems like its extra busy trying to fill the space. It doesn’t matter. The most important thing is to show up, don’t judge or be too concerned with what happens after that. The main thing is to show up. There are lots of methods of meditation, I’ve had success with breath and mantra based meditation and also Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness meditations are excellent. Transcendental Meditation has gained a foothold in the west, it is a manta based method that’s easy to learn and practice but I was disappointed to learn how expensive it is to get a coach to teach you. I wanted to create my own mantra anyways! If you’re a yogi or into Sanskrit, there are lots of beautiful mantras you can adopt as your own. If you’re not keen on Sanskrit, go for an English phrase. If you’re religious you could even go with a simple creed or prayer. You can even simply count during your inhales and exhales. I do a mixture of all those things.

No right way or wrong way. Just show up.

No right way or wrong way. Just show up.

Want even more guidance? This month the Chopra Meditation Center is hosting a free 21-day mediation challenge. Oprah teamed up with Deepak Chopra on this and who doesn’t love Oprah? It started on Monday so I am two days behind; just today I did Day 1. I liked it. I’ll admit though, some of these guided meditations can be a little, how shall I put it… woo-woo? hippie dippy? That’s ok, just take what resonates with you and leave the rest. These mediations are 20 minutes long, Oprah and Deepak talk for a while, guiding you into the mediation followed by some soft music so you can just be on your own with your breath and the mantra for the day. Once a total of 20 minutes has passed, a bell chimes and you are brought out of the mediation. That’s it! Easy. There is also a free app I’ll sometimes use called Simply Being. With this one you can choose the length of time you want to meditate in 5-minute increments and choose what background sounds you want. It’s pretty good.

A couple more things… You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor if it isn’t comfortable for you, you can sit in a chair, or lie down, whatever is comfortable. Also, meditation doesn’t have to be done in the morning – you can do it anytime! I hope I have inspired you to give it a try.


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