Last week, I briefly mentioned meditation in relation to yoga. But meditation isn’t strictly tied to yoga. As in, you don’t have to be doing yoga in order to meditate. Meditation just requires some time, an open mind and a quiet space.
That being said, y’all meditation is hard. You literally have to sit there taking deep, even breaths and not think about anything for the duration of your meditation. You can’t think about anything. Nothing. That’s really hard. But meditation is a really great way to de-stress, unplug and live in the moment.
In order to meditate, you have to carve out time in your day, find a quiet space and prepare yourself for the amazing mental, emotional and physical benefits.
According to artofliving.org, “meditation brings the brainwave patterns into an relaxed alpha state, that relaxes the body as well as the mind. Without constant stimuli entering the sensory pathways, the mind is able to relax and enter a state of deep rest.” Entering a state of deep rest is important to improve your mental facilities. Meditation also helps: happiness increase, anxiety decrease (who doesn’t need that?), and it can also help gain clarity and peace of mind, according to artofliving.org.
Physically, meditation can help lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety attacks and improve the immune system and your energy levels, according to artofliving.org. (If you can’t tell, artofliving.org is a great source to learn about the benefits of meditation.)
Several of the benefits of meditation are the same benefits that yoga gives you, which is probably why the two are used in conjunction so much. And, much like yoga, meditation is one of those things where the benefits outweigh the reasons not to do.
Since meditation has such wonderful benefits, you probably now want to know how to actually go about meditating. There really isn’t a simple response. Meditation is extremely personal, and you should do it in whatever way you feel comfortable. It’s all about you and your body and what your body needs. That being said, how-to-meditate.org and I both have some suggestions on some best practices for meditation.
After you find some time to meditate and a quiet space, the next thing to worry about is your posture. How-to-meditate.org suggests using Vairochana’s posture. Basically, this posture entails you sitting on your bottom with your legs crossed, feet soles up and resting on your thighs, with your right hand over your left, palms up and thumb tips slightly touching. In this posture, your back should be straight and relaxed, your head should be slightly tilted forward with your eyes slightly closed and your elbows should be held away from your body.
I can’t use this posture simply because I am not flexible enough to get my feet sole side up and resting on my thighs, which is called full lotus in yoga if you’re interested. And you don’t necessarily have to use that posture, that’s just what some recommend.
Personally, I sit with my legs crossed or with my knees bent and legs tucked under me. I then place my hands on my thighs. The yoga instructor I used to go to always said palms up to bring in energy, and palms down to remain grounded, so I always just see how I feel in the moment and decide if I need to chill or bring in some energy. But it is extremely important to keep your back straight because it keeps your body in a nice alignment.
The entire goal of meditation is to clear your mind. My current yoga instructor, Chris, always tells our class, “Your thoughts are like clouds. If you have a thought, acknowledge it, then let it go.” Basically, your focus is on not focusing on anything, which is tough. I do this by focusing on my breath. I take deep, even breaths and use a mantra. On my in breath I think “Let” and on my out breath I think “it go.” The mantra keeps me from having a million different thoughts rushing into my head, and if you’re just starting out in meditation, I definitely recommend using a mantra to help keep your mind clear.
Meditation doesn’t have to be an hour long process. You can literally meditate for 5 minutes a day and still enjoy the benefits of it. And you should because it’s amazing. If you want to learn more in-depth about the benefits of meditation, or how exactly to go about meditating, visit how-to-meditate.org.