Meditation Changes Everything

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How can something so simple change anything? We live in a society where more means more, and we look outwardly for fulfillment. More money = more stability; more friends = more love; more stuff = more happiness.

The study of yoga and meditation teaches us that the most impressionable change results from stripping away the complexities of life. We’re told to breathe, be and let go as we flow through a series of poses or sit on a cushion. Yoga and meditation are centered on the idea of simplifying our thoughts and actions to find true stability, love and happiness.

Take a moment to consider: how much clutter are you carrying? I don’t mean just physical clutter; I’m talking about the mental and emotional stuff too. What are you clinging on to for the sense of security and accomplishment you allow it to represent in your life?

Meditation is the art of letting go of the clutter of the mind so we can relax into our normal state of being. In yoga, this is called “Atman” meaning, “true self.” At first, I doubted that a simple breath rhythm could shake up the stress, worry and thought patterns that have governed my existence for decades. Just like the seemingly never-ending pigeon pose during yoga class, a steady breath can nudge its way under the gunk to let stubborn emotions free.

Ready to de-clutter? Let’s get zen.

Step 1: Find a comfy place to sit.
Don’t worry about buying a fancy meditation cushion, just cozy up in your favorite chair. Keep it simple! The more it naturally integrates into your life, the more likely you are to make meditation a regular occurrence.

Step 2: Choose your soundtrack.
I’ve found that music can be a distraction while meditating. Instead of focusing on my breath, I often tune in to the beat and lose sight of the connection I’m working to build within. Try silence first and if you’re craving more stimulation, introduce ambient noise like ocean waves or Tibetan singing bowls. If your mind is tangled and you’re having trouble focusing, guided meditation can be soothing and will teach you to focus on just your inhales and exhales.

Step 3: Set a timer or use a guided meditation app.
If you can count the number of times you’ve meditated on two hands, start with a 5- minute timer. As you get more comfortable, increase by 1 minute per week. Ease into it. It’s the journey, not the destination that counts. A hack for any level: guided meditations are an easy way to keep your brain focused. Check out these guided meditation apps -- Headspace, Meditation Studio App and Insight Timer.

Step 4: Close your eyes and rest your hands in your lap.

Step 5: Be the breath.
Easier said than done! Give this a try: Imagine you’re standing in front of a mountain range. Picture your breath as a car driving up the incline of a mountain, reaching the top, and slowly making its descent down the other side. Repeat this again and again. If your brain floats toward your thoughts, bring it back by raising your finger in the air and tracing the mountain peaks in front of you. The key is to keep your brain busy on something in sync with your breath.

Step 6: Awaken your senses.
The same way a yoga instructor guides you out of Savasana, sweetly draw yourself out of meditation. Bring your hands to your heart, Samastitihi, and slowly rub them together as if warming them up on a cold winter day. When your hands are warm, form them into cups and gently cover your eyes. Allow your senses to awaken to this heat and when ready, flick your eyes open. Let your hands float back down to your lap. Wiggle your toes, nod your head from side to side; do what feels juicy in the moment.

Step 7: Commit to your next sit.
Like anything, consistency makes the difference. Commit to incorporating meditation into your normal routine, perhaps after breakfast or as the first thing you do when you wake up. If that doesn’t work, schedule your meditation in your phone calendar with an alarm so you don’t forget to sit.