Meditation can be a highly useful weight-loss tool: It can give you a productive way to recenter when junk food cravings strike, and can help you embrace a loving attitude that lets you forgive yourself when you make an unhealthy detour.
But meditation takes practice. It takes dedication, perseverance, patience, and an open heart and mind. Maybe you’re totally new to meditation, or are working on deepening your practice.
It can be arduous at the beginning, but, like many things in life, we get what we give. Here’s how to start or deepen your meditation practice:
Deepen Your Breath
Slow down your breath, breathing in and out through the nose (if possible). Take a few moments to just be. Become present and feel the sensation of your breath. When your mind wanders, you can always listen and feel your breath. If you’re new to meditation, focusing on your breath during the entire duration of your meditation is a great place to start.
Eyes Open or Closed
If your eyes are open, softly focus on a single object or point. If your eyes are closed, you can try looking at your third eye chakra (in between your eyebrows). This gazing point can help you draw your focus inward. Experiment with both eyes open and closed, and see what works best for you.
A Quiet Place Is a Good Place
While meditation can take place at any time or place, it is ideal to be in a quiet place when first starting out. Extraneous noises and distractions can quickly grasp hold of your attention. Find somewhere that allows you to feel calm and comfortable. Indoors and outdoors are both great options. Silence is healing.
Super important! Your mind cannot be clear and calm if your body isn’t the same. Try different positions until you find what feels right. Try these: Sit tall with your legs crossed with palms on knees. You can also lean against something sturdy if it’s more comfortable. Another option is to lie in svanasana (lie flat on your back with legs stretched out and palms face up).
Be diligent and stay consistent with your meditations. Practice 10 minutes every day. When you feel that you’ve ready for more, try 15 minutes, then 20, etc. Schedule a certain time every day that you can hold yourself responsible for dedicating to meditation. It’s 10 minutes—I know you can make the time!
The toughest part of meditating is often a busy mind. We’re built to think. We use our brains on a continuous basis, and therefore it’s challenging to just shut it off during meditation. Directing your focus towards something specific is helpful. Try using a mantra, mudra, affirmation or power words to calm your mind and focus on something constant. You can also focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, come back to your focal point.
Friends Are Awesome
Invite your friends and family to join you. Feeling the energy of those around you can be empowering, and will also help you stay consistent in your practice. Hold one another accountable and inspire each other to practice every day. Share your experiences!
Promise yourself that you will strive to get better with every meditation practice. Challenge yourself to practice every day, multiple times per day if you really want to kick butt! (But if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up.)
Meditation is a practice that allows us to bring our attention within ourselves. It allows us to cleanse ourselves of things we no longer need, and brings new energy and life into our bodies, minds and spirit. It also helps us learn about ourselves, and experience self-love and reflection. It’s as simple as a few moments each day set aside, just for you. Appreciate yourself, learn, grow and love.
Open yourself up to the powers of the universe and the power that resides inside of you. Palms facing up will help you lift your energy up, while palms down provides a feeling of being well grounded.
Distractions Will Occur
The sounds, sensations and thoughts while meditating can be a huge distraction. Try your best to witness these distractions and then let them pass. Revisit your breath, mantra, gazing point, etc.
It’s all Experimental
It will take some experimenting to figure out the best time to meditate. Some enjoy an early morning meditation while the mind is calm, while others like an afternoon breather, or a relaxing night session to wind down. Each day can be different: feel it out and do what feels best.
Meditation can be tough, and it takes lots and lots of practice. We all have off days and, honestly, it’s hard to start a new routine in our busy lives. There will be days that are easier than others, and days when calming the mind seems impossible. Stick with it! It’s essential that we be forgiving of our “off days” or moments of stress and anxiety that affect our meditation practice. Take a few deep breaths and try again.
—by Zuzu for Wanderlust
Photo courtesy of Wanderlust
This post is part of Wanderlust and MyFitnessPal’s 28-day Run-Yoga-Meditate challenge. Whether you are new to one (or all three!) of these activities, join us to gain a healthier mind and body in less than a month.