Guest post by Sarah Woodard, Spiritual Educator from Stone Bridge Transformation.
Stress is a sad reality for most women (and men) today.
In small doses, stress is okay. In fact, back in the days when we lived in caves, stress and our “flight or fight response” to it helped keep us alive.
Today, although we no longer need the hyper-vigilant brain to keep us alive, the wring hasn’t changed. So we still respond to stress the same way.
Long term, stress can be detrimental to physical health causing everything from heartburn that’s so bad it causes changes in your mouth to heart attack and stroke.
Plus, stress reduces your productivity. As your brain spins its gears trying to process everything and determine the biggest “threat,” you’re getting basically nothing of value accomplished.
If you’re ready to break out of this cycle, meditation is the answer!
How to Start Meditating
Most people I talk to are interested in meditating, but they’re not sure where to begin. Follow these quick steps to begin your meditation journey.
Step 1 – Find a Space
One of the most important things is to find an appropriate space. It needs to be somewhere you feel safe and won’t be interrupted.
Just as important, it needs to be a space that isn’t regularly used for something else. For example, don’t meditate in the same spot where you watch TV every night. Same room, sure, but not the same spot on the couch.
Step 2 – Get Comfortable
Most people have this image in their heads of sitting lotus style saying ohm. While that’s a very traditional way of meditating, it’s not necessary.
It’s more important that you’re comfortable.
You can sit in a chair, lay down, sit on the floor with feet out straight and your back against the wall, whatever feels right for you.
Step 3 – Focus on Your Breathing
As a beginner, don’t worry about having a mantra or anything like that. Simply focus on your breathing in the following manner:
Breathe in – think one.
Breathe out – think two.
Breathe in – think three.
Breathe out – think four.
That will help quiet your mind a little and also focus your intention. Continue for as long or as little time as you like. The key is to develop a sense of inner peace.
Don’t Worry About Your Thoughts
Nearly everyone who’s ever considered meditation worries about turning off their thoughts. I’m going to let you in on a secret here – you’ve got it backward! You don’t turn off your thoughts in order to meditate. You meditate in order to turn off your thoughts.
We’re not wired to shut off our brains – it’s how we stayed alive, remember? When the thoughts come in – and they ALWAYS will, try this.
Step 1 – Imagery
Imagine your thoughts as leaves, feathers, or monkeys coming into your head.
Step 2- Have Them Move Aside
Ask the monkeys, feathers, leaves, etc. to move to the side. Remind them you’ll be able to talk with them when you’re done.
Step 3 – Repeat
That’s it. Keep doing this with every thought you have. The more you meditate, the easier it will become and the more quickly your thoughts will move to the side.
For more information about how to handle your thoughts while meditating, check out this post on Monkey Mind Meditation.
Once you’re comfortable with meditation, you can do it anywhere. A quick bathroom break or in your car (parked) at lunch might be just the thing you need to calm down and get back to being productive for the rest of the day.