It seems like you can’t turn on the TV or pick up a magazine today without being bombarded with stories about “how effective and important it is to be mindful”—kind of ironic because the media are probably one of the reasons we feel overwhelmed in the first place! Ha! But why have so many people jumped on the meditation and mindfulness bandwagon recently? Simple. Because it really works.
There are countless articles detailing the cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual benefits of meditation. I’m not going to detail them all here because 1. I’m not a doctor and 2. They are all a simple Google search away! What I can tell you about is my own personal journey with meditation and how it has quite literally changed my life.
Like many of the things that have had a profound effect on me throughout my life, I first learned about meditation from my mom who has practiced for years. My mom’s dedication and enthusiasm were very apparent when I was growing up, but it wasn’t until years later that I began to connect with—and really understand—meditation myself. Meditation is something that’s yours and yours alone, so it was important for me to discover it for myself, explore what it could mean for me and truly make the practice my own.
I’ve been meditating for about 2 years now and try to do it every day. Since I’m so busy—and every day is so different—I definitely have to set time aside to meditate, and when I do, I can feel the difference right away. I feel myself becoming calmer, more centered and clearer-headed. Meditation also made me realize that there are times when I thought I had a grasp on what was going on with myself internally, then I meditated and found that my body was telling me something different. Sometimes, we try to outsmart our bodies instead of just listening to them.
There are a million and one ways to meditate, but this is how I like to fit in my mindfulness during a crazy day, whether I’m at home, on the road or on a flight across the Atlantic! For me, it’s about simply stopping whatever I’m doing and practicing the following 6 steps:
1. I get out my phone and set the timer for 10 minutes.
2. I sit cross legged or lie down (wherever I feel most relaxed but still aware of my body)
3. I pay close attention to my breath by breathing deeply in and out.
4. I pick a color and focus on it with my eyes closed
5. I let my thoughts drift by. I watch them pass and if I get distracted, refocus
6. After 10 minutes, I slowly open my eyes and allow my body and mind to readjust to my surroundings.
By focusing on my breath, I become acutely aware of my thoughts and feelings. I can then observe these thoughts and feelings without giving importance to them, and let them go. For me, meditation has become an integral part of my everyday life, and has brought me more calmness, clarity and contentment than I could have ever imagined. I hope you’ll take 10 minutes out to try it for yourself too!