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Meditation is something that, to really feel the full benefit of, you need to practice on a routine basis. One of the most important things to understand when you first start meditating, is the idea that the thoughts you have don’t always translate to being the reality of what happens around you. In life, we build our own realities based on that voice in our head. For example, say you’re out to lunch with a friend and you say “let’s get an appetizer.” This friend responds with “I can’t afford the calories.” That voice in your head might immediately translate that statement to “Well really your friend is saying you can’t afford those calories either” or if you’re me that directly translates to the voice in my head saying “Your friend thinks you're fat.” The reality of the situation is your friend might be on a diet or trying to save money with not the slightest clue that you might take that in an offensive way. That voice in your head ends up creating a reality that lot of times really isn’t the truth of the situation. Meditating helps because you become so much more aware of that voice. Becoming more aware of that voice is really in an important step to living a more positive and fulfilled life. As you continue on this meditation journey, you can start investigating the root of what causes that voice in your head to create negative interpretations. We can start the process of this awareness and eventual happiness by dedicating just three minutes a day to checking in on ourselves. Below are some steps for beginner meditations.
- Sit down. (I don’t mean that in an aggressive way, I typed that and felt it read aggressively.) (Important to note: previous parenthesis also serves as a demonstration of my social anxiety)
- Set a timer for three minutes.
- Allow your eyes to become unfocused.
- Listen and feel your breath as you breathe in and out.
- Close your eyes.
- Because my mind tends to race with thoughts, it helps me to focus on something so I like to picture the number in my head as I count my breath to 10.
- Take a deep breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- As thoughts of the day pass by in your mind, you may gently identify them as being worries of the future, the past, fears, happy thoughts, excitement, etc. Identify them and then let them go. It’s important to understand that thoughts are not the truth of a situation but instead a very biased truth of how we perceive things happening to us. Don’t dwell on the thoughts—instead picture them floating across your mind and when you’re ready, go back to counting your breath.
- You can continue counting your breath after the first count of 10 or you can do a body scan. Starting from the top of your head, slowly scan down your body, taking into account how it feels. There will be places of tension. (For me, it’s in my neck and upper back!) Don’t try and change or fix that tension. Instead you’re just noticing it like you notice passing thoughts in your mind and continuing on with your scan. You’re really just becoming aware of your body in that space.
- When you finish scanning down your body, gently return to counting your breath until the three minutes is up.
- When the time is up, open your eyes and have wonderful day!
Note: Sometimes when you first start meditating it can feel overwhelming because for many (including myself) you get really used to constant screen or sound stimuli. Even when I go to bed I have a very bad habit of blaring TLC in the background. Meditating can even feel frustrating because it can feel like it’s impossible to focus with so many thoughts in your mind. It’s all about the process though and taking the time to really build a routine. Slowly as 3 minutes seem to fly by, you can increase to 5 minutes and then maybe 10 and so on.