I’ve always known what mediation was but I imagined it to be something only hippies and yoga gurus do. I didn’t realize that it’s also a tool that some of the world’s most successful people—like Oprah and Mark Zuckerberg—use every day.
The first time I successfully meditated I didn’t even realize it. I was 16 years old and was vacationing in Cancun for spring break. I signed up for a yoga class on the beach one morning and at the end of the class the instructor had us lay down on our mats with our eyes closed and simply breath in the fresh ocean air. I was so relaxed that I got into this state that felt like I was in a gray area between conscious and asleep. I felt like my body was floating, my brain felt like it had shut off and I simply felt so. damn. good.
I thought this was just a “magical thing” that happens during yoga class, so I started doing classes regularly once I got home. Sometimes I could “get back into it” and other times I couldn’t seem to shut my brain off. A couple times I actually drifted off. But every once I a while, I’d get that magical feeling again.
After I won Miss Maine, I stopped doing yoga because any free time I had to exercise was dedicated to intense workouts. My love of peaceful stretching got put on the back burner and my priority became those omg-I’m-about-to-die-workouts. I noticed that I wasn’t as grounded as when I practiced yoga. One day I was feeling a little stressed so I went out on my dock with my 13-year-old chocolate lab Millie. I stared at the water and focused on taking deep breaths while Millie waded in the water behind me. Before I knew it, I was in a trance. It was that same magical feeling, except this time I was standing up and my eyes were open.
So, every day I would stand on the edge of my dock, breath in the soft waves of Sebago Lake and return to my happy place. Millie passed away over a year and a half ago but I can still hear her wading in the water every single time I meditate…. Maybe that’s why I love it so much.
This year I started hearing more about the benefits of meditation because it seems like “mindfulness” is the word of the year. I’ve been seeing more posts about it and reading more articles. I ended up buying a book called, “Mediate Your Weight” which includes a 21-day meditation plan. After following this, I realized that all those times where I simply felt “magical” during yoga and on my dock were actually meditation practices.
I’ve been meditating regularly for a while now and it has made a huge impact on my life. I’m happier. I’m healthier. I’m more aware.
How do I start?
I suggest going on YouTube and finding a short, 3-5-minute video. In the beginning, even 3 minutes can seem like an eternity. You’ll want to build your way up to a longer session.
You don’t have to use a guided meditation video but I highly encourage them at first because if you simply try to close your eyes in silence your mind will probably go something like this, “Ok, stop thinking. Breath. This is hard. Am I doing this right? I want to open my eyes. Don’t open your eyes. What was that noise? Oh, probably the washer machine. Ugh I need to fold that laundry later. Wait stop thinking. How can I stop? Oh my god this is torture. Is the three minutes up yet?”
You’ll eventually get to a point where you can sit in the silence and turn down the volume on your thoughts but until then, just let a YouTube video do that for you.
There are countless different approaches to meditation, I personally love guided sessions that focus on something specific. I love mediation videos focusing on chakras, gratitude and happiness.
How often should I do it?
Doing just 5 minutes a day is more beneficial than doing long sessions a couple times a week.
Should I sit or lay down?
Sitting down with a pillow under your bottom so that your hips are higher than your feet is the ideal position. If you try to sit without a pillow then your back will be rounded and it’ll start to hurt during your session. You can lay down but studies show that you’re more likely to zone out completely or even just fall asleep since our bodies associate this position with sleeping.
What is the best time of day to do it?
Any time that works for you! Doing it in the morning puts you in the BEST mood and sets the tone for a great day, however if you’re the type of person who will fall asleep in the morning or you already rush in the AM, then try it in your car during lunch break, when you get home or before bed.
But what if I can't shut my brain off?
This happens to everyone. Every time a random thought pops into my head (which is usually multiple times a session) I visualize that thought turning into a cloud then I picture the cloud floating off into the distance
Meditation is the key to navigating our fast-paced lives filled with stress, stress and more stress. Give yourself a BREAK from everything. All you have to do is close your eyes and breath. Your mind and body deserve it.
Now, I'm off to practice my daily session, and who knows maybe I'll get a visit from my little love bug in heaven.