The ancient practice of meditation is on the rise from workplaces to schools to pro sports teams – it’s no longer just for those living a yogi lifestyle who believe in the mindfulness principles of self-awareness and presence. Meditation, in short, is using your internal efforts to self-regulate the mind. Meditation – like anything else you practice – should be looked at as training for the mind and is something you need to work towards, similar to training for a race or sport.
When you practice boxing (for example), you practice combinations, moves and agility to develop reactionary muscles in your body. Over time, you’ll notice fluidity in your motions and quicker reactions as a result of developing muscle memory. Same goes for exercising your brain. You must train your brain to think in a way that gives you maximum control over your thoughts and reactions during change, stress and pressure; to be calm, positive and optimistic as a result. The more you work at controlling your thoughts, in a practice like meditation, the easier it will be to stay present, ease stress and allow positive thoughts to take over.
Although sitting on a pillow in silence, among candles and essential oils and chanting mantras in Sanskrit sounds exciting, we know here at aSweatLife that time is of the essence for all of you type-A, go-getter personalities. You can reap the benefits of meditation from taking just a few minutes out of your day to digital detox and tune into your own thoughts; it doesn’t need to be the preconceived meditation we all envision.
By implementing a daily practice, you can expect results such as improved concentration, reduced stress, happiness and acceptance according to an article by Huffington Post. While there are a variety of different styles and techniques for meditating, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. The important part about incorporating meditation into your own routine is that you keep it simple, accessible and comfortable so it is something you come back to every day.
Tips for starting a meditation practice:
Start small: Meditation is all about training your brain, just like any other muscle. Start with two minutes of meditation practice a day and build up slowly by adding a minute onto your practice every few days. It follows the same theory as running – you start out walking a mile, and after weeks of training you can run a marathon. Practice quieting your mind for a few minutes at a time and slowly increase the amount of time you hold that focus.
Create your space: You don’t need a beautiful, quiet room with plush pillows, natural light and candles in order to meditate. Identify a quiet space that allows you to process your thoughts. A few ideas for places to meditate in this day and age could be your bedroom, a reading chair, kitchen table, patio, desk or even your car. Create your own space for meditation that works with your daily routine and lifestyle.
Don’t worry about right or wrong: There is no right or wrong way to meditate so don’t be critical or let it feel unapproachable. The simple act of trying to control your thoughts for moments at a time throughout the day is going to help your mental capacity and emotional state. Wherever your mind wanders, recognize it and know its ok. Meditation is the one time during the day that you don’t need to compete with anyone, not even yourself. The act of “being in the present moment” is what meditation is all about.
Give it time: Meditation is a practice because it is something you need to work at in order to develop. Similar to controlling your brain to focus through a full 60-minute spin class (the first class you go to seems so long; then you develop mental endurance to pass the time in-class more quickly), the same goes for meditation. With time and commitment, you’ll recognize wandering thoughts and learn to stay still and focused for longer periods of time. Don’t be quick to judge the benefits of meditation on your mental health; commit to trying it out for a month to see how the practice can change your mindset.
Get started in your own meditation practice by tapping into Lululemon’s One Week Meditation Challenge. The free daily sessions offer 12 minutes of guided meditation by Lululemon Mindfulness Manager, Danielle Mika Nagel that can be done anytime, anywhere.
In today’s society (especially), our minds are so cluttered with technology from morning until night; the least we can do to exercise our brain is treat ourselves to a few minutes of quiet meditation a day.