I get asked often about my meditation practice. It seems as if so many people are interested in mediting but just don’t know how or where to even begin. I can relate. I’ve been meditating for about 6 years now and I can honestly say it has changed my life. But when I first started, I was lost. I didn’t even really know what meditation was to be honest.
Growing up my dad used to meditate every day. I remember running into his room to bug him about something or another and he would always be sitting upright in his bed, leaned up against the headboard with his eyes closed. I can still picture it vividly. I would always ask him, “Papi, what are you doing?!” “Meditating”, he would say”. I never understood. He would try to explain but it would go in one ear and out the other. And now, here I am…. can’t go a day without it. Oh, the irony.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my adult life, so needless to say when my dad passed away almost 6 years ago, my nervous system went haywire. Everything changed from that moment on. I found myself having more panic attacks than before, questioning my religious beliefs, and feeling disconnected to so many people and things I had felt so connected to before. I started reading, researching, studying, searching for anything to make me feel normal again. I came across a lot of articles and books about meditation and I instantly thought, “Papi, are you trying to tell me something?” I think he was. Actually I KNOW he was. And so my journey to meditation began.
So, what is meditation?
Wikipedia defines it as: “A practice where an individual uses a technique such as focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.”
True…. but if you ask me, it’s so much more than that.
Meditation is a way for me to tell my crazy Virgo brain to “Shut the F$@& up!” Honestly, It’s crazy how much BS I feed myself everyday. It’s so easy for negative, unhappy, unmotivating, fearful thoughts to take over my mind. And if I let them, they WILL take me down. So, I meditate. I meditate so that those thoughts don’t control me. I meditate so that I can choose better, more positive and loving thoughts to fill my mind. Think of it as a hard drive with useless and negative information all over it. Wouldn’t you want to just wipe the hard drive clean and start over and fill it with things that will benefit you? That’s what meditation does for me. A fresh start each day where I can assess what kind of crazy s#!+ is going on up there, and decide what I want to focus on instead.
I know, I know. You’re dying for me to tell you how already! OK, fine!
Here are some tips that I think will be really helpful for you:
1. SET THE VIBE
I think creating a space for your meditation practice is extremely important. You definitely want to go somewhere where its quiet and you can be alone. You want a space that feels inviting. Somewhere you feel comfortable and makes you feel good. I created a space in my room and I call it my “Meditation Station”. It makes me really happy and I wake up every morning excited to spend time in it. Fill your space with things that bring you all the right vibes. Light some candles, burn some sage or a palo santo, play some chill vibes, or sit in silence; its all preference.
2. FOCUS ON THE BREATH
Ok, so, you’re in your “meditation station”, now what?
Well, first of all, you can either sit up, or lie down. When I started off, I would always lie down, but I would fall asleep alot. Now, I always sit in Indian style. Try them both; see which you like better. Hang upside down for all I care; by all means, whatever works for you!
Next, close your eyes and all you have to do is focus on your breath. Don’t change it. Just observe it. Breathe slowly and be aware of the air coming in…. and going out. Sounds easy, but it’s actually pretty challenging. Your mind will probably start to wander and think about all the errands you have to run later, or that your rent is due tomorrow, or that your boyfriend is pissing you off. That’s completely normal. When that happens, just catch yourself, and simply bring your awareness back to your breath. Do that as many times as you need to. The key is not to judge yourself for your wandering thoughts or let them control you, the key is to observe them, be aware of them, and watch them go by like a plane in the sky. And always bring yourself back to your breath.
Do this for 5 minutes at first. Set a timer if you want. Once you master 5 minutes a day, move up to 7 minutes, then 10, and so on. Don’t worry if an entire year goes by and you’re still meditating for only 5 minutes a day. Be patient with yourself. You’ll get there, I promise.
3. TRY AN APP
Maybe you’re the type of person that needs some guidance to get you through a meditation. Apps can be SUPER helpful when starting to meditate. When I first started I was obsessed with the apps. There was no way my overthinking Virgo brain was going to be able to sit in silence and not think about things. HA! Yea right! Jokes! I needed some major help. There's tons of apps out there for mediation but my favorite one by far is Insight Timer. It’s really easy to navigate and you can basically find meditations that fit your specific needs. You tell it how much time you have to meditate, and what you want your meditation to focus on and it offers you tons of guided meditations based on your request. Easy peasy. Simple. And not to mention, FREE! I highly suggest it!
I love Mantras. Mantras are basically words or phrases in Sanskrit that are believed to have psychological and spiritual powers. Repeating a mantra mentally while meditating can be really beneficial in helping you focus on one thing so that your mind doesn’t wander too much. And when your mind does wander (And it will. We’re only human), you can simply bring your attention back to repeating the mantra. A simple and effective mantra you can always try is “So Hum”. It translates to “I am that” in Sanskrit which means identifying oneself with the Universe. Whenever I’m having trouble connecting during my meditation practice, I always resort to “So Hum”. Works like a charm!
I learned about mantras from Deepak Chopra. I'm sure you know exactly who Deepak is, but just in case you don't, he is basically a guru in the meditation world. Every couple of months Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey do a FREE 21-day meditation challenge. It’s 21 days of guided audio meditations that leave you feeling inspired, happier and full of joy. Each meditation provides you a different and unique mantra. Sign up at chopracentermeditation.com to be notified about the next one!
I know that meditation isn’t easy, and it can feel like a chore at first (trust me, I know! I sucked at it for a long time before I actually started enjoying it), but if you really want to reap the benefits, and you care about elevating your life and your mental health in a real way, then I say stick to it! Give it a real chance. Fight through the uncomfortableness and get to the good stuff. You’ll thank yourself later.
Hopefully these tips were helpful. Try one of them or try all of them. I can gratefully say that meditation has healed me of my anxiety. If I do get anxious, I just turn to meditation and the feeling passes. I am more myself now than I’ve ever been, happier than I’ve ever been, and I’m vibrating at the highest frequency I’ve ever experienced. Good luck to you on your new journey!
So, here’s what i know:
- Meditation is a game changer. Use it to heal yourself of the things that no longer serve you.
- Meditation can be hard at first, but oh SO rewarding once you make it a lifestyle.
- Just 5/10 minutes a day can change your entire life. DO IT!!!!
Sending you love,