“The inspiration you seek is already within you. Be silent and listen.” – Rumi
I have a confession: I’m a bit of a self-care addict. When I’m feeling good, I throw myself into self care like I’m going to be tested on it. I loved school and learning so I think not being a student (for now!) means I need to get my “school” fix elsewhere. I LOVE self-help books and learning and practicing ways to be healthier both physically and mentally/emotionally. So, of course, I love meditation! I started a regular meditation practice about a year ago and the benefits are pretty amazing. At first I thought it was a silly thing that only “hippies” did and it probably wouldn’t help me feel better. I quickly learned that there’s something special about totally disconnecting and just focusing on your breath for a short amount of time. I rarely meditate for longer than 15 minutes at a time, but the difference in how I feel from before to after is usually pretty intense. This is not always the case, I’ve had a few nights with such high anxiety that meditation couldn’t help. But for the most part, meditation is a quick and effective way to reduce anxiety and over time lead to a healthier well-being. The best part? Anyone can do it, anywhere. I subscribe to the Calm app, which does have a yearly subscription cost, but there are tons of free apps/trials and YouTube videos that are amazing.
Here are some tips and things that I do for my meditation practice 🙂
- Find a quiet, peaceful space: this can be as simple as finding an empty room or actually having a special area set up for your meditation practice. I meditate either on my couch in the basement or on the floor in my bedroom!
- Focus on your breath: just breathe and let it be. Don’t try to control your breath, just focus on the in and out. If I’m feeling distracted I find it helpful to think “1” on the inhale and “2” on the exhale, and repeat that over and over.
- Switch it up!: I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the same meditation twice in a row. The Calm app has so many different ones to listen to, and Youtube has an endless amount. That way you never get bored 🙂 And if you don’t feel like listening to anyone speak and just want silence, do that! Calm has a timed silent meditation that I use when I just want to listen to my own thoughts.
- Keep it regular: the key thing about a meditation practice is that you have to practice to experience the benefits! I aim to meditate at least a few times a week, preferably daily (even if just for 5 minutes!). Time of day really doesn’t matter but the morning and nighttime are good times because meditation is a good way to get focus ahead of your day or wind down before bed. I also use meditation is acute situations where I’m feeling really anxious or overwhelmed and just need to take a time out.
- Don’t take it too seriously: I meditate because I truly enjoy it, so if I viewed it as a chore and like something I should do to feel better, I probably wouldn’t enjoy it and I wouldn’t practice it. I try to make my practice my own and really appreciate the benefits it gives me ❤️
- Tools: the beauty of meditation is that all you really need is yourself and your breath! But for some added enjoyment, you can use a meditation mat (I found mine second hand at a foreclosure) and burn candles, sage, or incense. I also have a scented “eye pillow” that I use sometimes for sleep meditations. Another cool thing I received was a stone at a meditation workshop. I keep this at my desk and hold it when anxious as a reminder to take deep breaths and slow down.
That will be all for today! Things have been going well for me the last two weeks, my anxiety has been low and acupuncture and therapy have been effective. I feel more balanced than I have in a really long time. I know low moods can creep up at any time, so something I discussed with my therapist today was making a couple lists; one to list triggers that send me into a down period, and another to list things I can do to help me feel better when I’m anxious or depressed. Perhaps I’ll share some of that next time. Thanks for listening 🙂