In this series of posts to kick off my new website, I’ll be showing you how sneaking just five minutes of practices like meditation into your days can change your life.
If I could pick a theme song for these posts, it would be that old country song, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places” by Johnny Lee. Because we’re often looking for happiness in the wrong places. Like it’s somewhere ‘out there’ and it’s hopefully heading our way. Or it’s in the future – so we wait around for it.
But, at the risk of sounding a little corny – happiness is on the inside. It think we all know this, but it just seems really hard. Where do we even start to work on ourselves on the inside? And how?
Meditation, to me, is the best place to start. It’s basically the foundation – because it’s how we can get quiet and still and create space in our minds. And aside from the jokes about empty space between our ears, empty space in our minds is actually a good thing. There’s exciting scientific research to prove it.
I always liked Ellen Degeneres’ quote from years ago,
“It feels good. Kinda like when you have to shut your computer down, just sometimes when it goes crazy, you just shut it down and when you turn it on, it’s okay again. That’s what meditation is to me.”
Here’s some of the proven benefits of meditation. This list is just some of them:
- Reduces worry and anxiety
- Reduces stress, fear, and depression
- Enhances self-esteem
- Improves resilience
- Increases optimism
- Improves mood
- Increases mental strength
- Helps memory
- Improves immune system and energy level
- Reduces blood pressure
Now, let’s debunk some of the old stereotypes about meditation. Ones like you need to meditate for long hours to get any benefits – out. Or that you need to chant – out. Pretzel legs – out. Sitting in a huge field with ribbons and flowers in your hair, wearing a white gauzy dress – all out.
As you can see, I’m not a purist. Just like you don’t need to be Michael Phelps to enjoy a great swim or Ariana Grande to feel good belting out your favorite song in the shower – I believe you don’t need to be a Buddhist Monk to get still and clear your mind.
You can meditate while you’re sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room, pretending to read a magazine – and still get benefits.
Here are some great times and places to sneak meditation in:
- On a train, in a plane (sounds like a Dr. Seuss book:)
- Waiting for appointments and meetings
- On breaks at work
- Anytime at home
- Outside in nature
Here are the steps to a simple, basic meditation.
There’s plenty of variations and they’re all fine. This is what works for me, although I’m always mixing things up.
- Get comfortable. You could be lying down, sitting or even standing if you have to.
- Close your eyes, slow your breathing, and imagine all the muscles in your body are as soft as noodles.
- Take a slow deep breath through your nose that fills your belly; hold for a few seconds; then release slowly through your mouth until you feel as if you’ve emptied all the air from your belly.
- Repeat three or four times.
- Now, just breathe regularly and quietly – and get still. Begin to concentrate on the rise and fall of your stomach if you want or on the air coming into your body – something simple to focus on.
- When thoughts pop in, just imagine them floating by like clouds – and then refocus.
- And that’s it. Five minutes is fine and even longer is better.
Even if you’re like many people and think you aren’t doing it right or that you can’t sit still or that your mind just roams – it’s all fine. You’re still getting benefits, even if you think you’re not good at meditation. Like anything, you’ll get better with practice.
Then, once you start mastering the basics, you can start discovering other types of meditation. It’s a fascinating field. Just start Youtubing it.
Want a FREE 370 page E-book of my book, Simply Being Happy – 93 Ways to Replace Worry with Peace and Create a Joyful Life? Get it here.
If you tried the steps above, how did you do? If you are someone who’s meditates regularly, are there any tips you’d like to share?