Empower Your Mind

Mindfulness and Meditation

In honor of January’s theme, “Empower Your Mind”, here is how you can cultivate mindfulness in your everyday life through meditation.

In this day and age, most of us lead very busy lives. It’s easy to get caught up in your to-do list and other obligations. Our minds constantly worry and tell us about all of the things we need to get done, and try to guilt us for those things that we didn’t have time for. This can lead to anxiety, burn-out, stress, depression, and all sorts of negative consequences.

Why Meditate?

It’s so important for our mental health to take some time for ourselves and attempt to quiet the mind and focus on the present moment. If you’re a very anxious person, chances are that you spend a lot of time ruminating on past events or worrying about future situations yet to occur, whether you want to or not. These thoughts tend to cause a lot of negative feelings and emotions. Starting a meditation practice can help you learn how to let some of these thoughts go, or to not give them as much weight and attention. It’s all about accepting yourself, accepting the moment as is, and finding calm even when things get crazy.

Meditation can help you be more mindful about your thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness is the act of intentionally bringing your awareness to the present moment, focusing on what is happening here and now. When you are mindful and tuned into what you are thinking, you are better able to choose which thoughts you would like to give your attention to and to let those thoughts that don’t serve you float away. Mindfulness can help relieve stress and improve our focus.

How To Meditate? 

There are so many ways that you can go about meditating! You can be seated (in a chair or on the floor) or lying down. You can do it anytime during the day, morning or night, whatever works best with your schedule. You can meditate in silence, or play some background music or nature sounds. Or, if you prefer, you can listen to a guided meditation – there are tons of resources online. The length can vary, from minutes to hours and anywhere in between. Find what works for you and your schedule. Even just a few minutes a day can be beneficial.

The goal is to let the mind be still, not attaching any significance to any particular thought. You may still have thoughts come through, but just acknowledge them, and let them go.  When you notice that you’ve gotten distracted from your meditation practice by a thought, gently accept it and bring your attention back to your meditation.

There are so many different meditation methods. Experiment with different methods and figure out what resonates with you. 

Here are some of our favorite ways to meditate:

Breath-Focused Meditation

In this form of meditation, we bring our focus solely to the act of breathing. To do this, find a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Begin to pay attention to the qualities of your breath:

  • Notice how your abdomen rises with every inhale and falls with every exhale. 
  • Notice how the air feels in your nose as you inhale and exhale. Is it warm or cold?
  • Notice the pause between each inhale and exhale. Perhaps play with holding that pause for a moment before continuing your breath. 
  • Count the breath. How long is the inhale and the exhale? Perhaps play with lengthening each inhale and exhale, breathing slow and steady.

Guided Meditation

There are a variety of these available online. Sometimes guided meditations can be easier to do when first getting into the habit of cultivating a meditation practice. It can be very hard to sit still in silence, even for just a few minutes. Having someone guide you through it can really help. Many paid apps offer guided meditations, but YouTube can be a great source. Find a guided meditation that calls to you and give it a try! 

Sleep Meditation

If you’re having trouble falling asleep, or even if you would just like some time to relax and unwind before bed, try listening to a guided sleep meditation. YouTube is a great source for these as well. 

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