Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There! I love this twist on the old saying, and it seems I’m in good company. Open a magazine, turn on the news, or scroll through your Facebook news feed and it won’t take long before you come across a story or a report about the benefits of meditation. More and more studies are proving what yogis and other spiritual seekers have known for centuries: meditation is really, really good for you! In addition to warding off stress and disease, regular meditation practice can change the way your brain functions even when you’re not practicing it, including helping to regulate emotions and attention. I credit my meditation practice with helping me deal with anxiety, depression, learning how to listen and communicate more effectively, and generally being more patient and kind.
How does one begin to practice meditation? The key word here is practice! Whatever kind of meditation technique you choose, remember that you can’t do it wrong. Think of it like sitting down to catch up with a dear friend over a cup of tea, and that friend is yourself (so be nice!). It is also good to be aware that while meditation (or mindfulness) could be simply explained as the art of paying attention, you haven’t failed if you spend the whole time with your mind wandering. If you are lucky enough to have a glimpse of “Wow, my mind is all over the place!” during or after a meditation practice, consider that moment of noticing your wandering mind a moment of enlightenment, of clear-seeing, and trust that more of those will come with practice. Other things that can help when starting a meditation practice are:
- Designate a specific place to practice. Whether it is your car, your bed, or a sweet set-up with candles, cushions and incense, you will be more likely to practice if you have a clear idea of where you meditate.
- Make yourself comfortable. Use cushions or other props to support your body if you are doing a seated or lying meditation practice, and dress in clothes that are comfortable and don’t restrict your breathing in any way.
- Find a time of day that works best for you. Some people like to sit first thing in the morning in the quiet of a dark house, others prefer a mid-day or evening practice. Meditating is often more challenging if you are already tired, so consider your daily shifts of energy when considering when to practice.
- Practice with others. Many people find it helpful to meditate in a group, and having the company of others practicing with you can have a nourishing, supportive effect on your own practice.
The time is now! Whether you’re thinking about starting to meditate, or have a regular practice, join us for Evolution’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge, to learn tips from yoga and meditation teachers, and feel the support of a group commitment to practice. Evolution also hosts a free community mindfulness session every Sunday evening from 6:30-8:30pm, which incorporates sitting and walking meditation, as well as shared readings and discussions related to mindfulness practice. We hope you will join us!
– Christine Holt