Learn to Meditate in 4 Easy Steps

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Hi!  Welcome back to #FitFriday.  At the yoga studio where I teach, we intentionally incorporate meditation as a part of our daily yoga classes every March.  We call it #MarchMeditation.  Every teacher gets an opportunity to guide the students through a meditation practice as part of their yoga curriculum.  The length of each meditation can be anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes, depending on the type and style and theme of the class.  Many think that meditation is a complicated practice.  Actually, you can meditate anytime, anywhere--for any length of time.  Here are 4 Easy Steps to follow:

1)  Sit comfortably upright on a chair, feet on the floor, hands resting on the thighs, (you could also recline with your spine straight, or sit on the floor if you prefer).  Take two or three deep breaths, then close your eyes.

2)  Starting from the top of the head and moving down, mentally scan your body, noticing any tension in your muscles, places of comfort or discomfort, the feel of the floor beneath your feet.  Begin to pay attention to the natural rhythm of your breath.

3)  As you become aware of your breath, follow the rising and falling sensation without changing it in any way, silently counting breaths.  Inevitably, your mind will wander.  This is one of the first lessons of meditation.  When you notice that a thought has distracted you, let go of it and gently return your attention to your breath.  Over time, you'll learn to step back and just observe the thoughts.  The same goes for sounds:  Rather than trying to block them out, let them come and go.  

4)  Take a few seconds to allow your mind to do whatever it wants.  (You may find your mind is very quiet.)  Noticing the sounds around you and bringing your attention back to the body, gently open your eyes.

When to do it:  Many people meditate first thing in the morning, to start the day with a clear head--but everybody's different, so find what works for you.

How often:  The more you practice, the more quickly you will see the benefits--and consistency helps the nervous system to relax.  It's best to focus on "a little and often" to build a solid foundation.  If every day feels overwhelming, try every other day until you find a regular pattern and routine that is calming to you.

How long:  Anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes to start.  I recommend that you set a timer so you aren't checking your clock, or phone.  For some people, that will be enough, for others the time will lengthen and they will decide to sit for longer periods--especially once you begin to experience the mental clarity and mindfulness that will become part of your present.

Meditation has empowered me to be more fully mindful and present in the moment.  "If you are depressed you are living in the past.  If you are anxious you are living in the future.  If you are at peace you are living in the present."  Lao Tzu 

Check back next Friday for more work/life balance tips and tricks.  See you soon!  Warmly, Susan