If I am honest, the thought of a really good meditation practice feels un-achievable to me on most days but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. My acupuncturist recently recommended I meditate at night and in the morning and I automatically went to a stressful place because on most days with work and family and finding some time to exercise there is barely a minute to breath (no pun intended). Yet, I know that taking the time to ground myself is super important especially when I am stressed out! So I have been finding the time to “meditate” in a way that works for me and it might work for you too!
“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak”- Ma Jaya Siti Bhagavat
Taking some time (say 5 minutes each day) to practice deep breathing has the potential to bring a variety of benefits to your mental and physical health. I challenged you to take a few minutes to breathe in a previous post and we will do it again (right now) before you even read on–this is as good a time as any so sit back, close your eyes and start breathing deeply. Inhale through your nose filling up your lungs and exhale though your mouth letting all the ick stuff and stress go out with your breath. Repeat this few times.
Super simple, right? And I bet you feel different, even a little bit more relaxed?
Meditation can be as simple as taking the time to focus on your breath or you can focus on a mantra and intention to ground you. Why is it so good for you?
-Meditation can reverse our stress response
-Meditation leads to muscle relaxation
-Oxygen delivery throughout our body improves
-It has scientifically shown to lower blood pressure, this is because when practicing meditation our heart rate and breathing slows down causing blood pressure to normalize.
-You can clear your mind- and once that unwanted space is cleared- you will create opportunities for new, good stuff!
Now that we know that meditation has tons of benefits-let me walk you through a quick breathing exercise:
- Sit down in a place where you feel comfortable and try to find a place that is free of clutter or distraction–no cell phone allowed!
- Close your eyes and simply relax- take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Focus on any areas of your body that are tense and allow your breath to relax those areas
- Gently greet any thoughts that may arise and bring the focus back to your breath
- Having trouble focusing on your breath (our minds love to distract us)? Try counting each breath–4-5 counts in and 4-5 counts out. The repetition of the numbers will help you focus.
- Continue this exercise for 3-5 minutes
Be kind to yourself when doing this–we are so quick to judge ourselves so try not to worry if you are doing it correctly or if your mind is focused on something else. The important thing is that you are trying! So make sure to feel proud of that alone!
Okay–so how do I fit in my 5 minutes (or more) a day?
First, I have let go of the idea that I am going to do this every single day because when I tried to commit to that I felt like I was failing if I couldn’t achieve it.
Second, I try to be useful with the time I have. If I have time to take a bath I use that time to meditate. If I am stuck in traffic or on a drive I use that time to breathe and relax (all the while keeping an eye on the road, of course) which also helps limit road rage, ha! I use my time at acupuncture as meditation time because, honestly, that is one of the few times I am in a room, alone, with nothing else to do but relax! Mornings are chaotic with a kid and a puppy so I can rarely find time then but I might try to center myself as he watches a show or plays independently because even a few breaths can be rewarding! At night, before bed it is helpful for me to pause and decompress as it helps me let go of the day and I sleep much better. Taking a few minutes to breathe and ground yourself before a meal is both relaxing and purposeful as you can check in to see if your are truly hungry or simply feeding your emotions! I have also found that 5 minutes, in the middle of the day is really helpful. I step away from my desk and simply breathe. It clears my mind and helps me refresh and refocus.
How do you fit in time for meditation and conscious breathing?