Updated: Apr 25, 2020
What comes to your mind when someone talks about meditating? Do you picture them sitting cross legged, eyes closed, chanting "Om?" Do you see them radiating an internal light as they suddenly gain an insight into the secrets of the universe? Maybe you picture yourself sitting in agony, bored and frustrated? Or maybe just thinking about meditating relaxes your body and makes you smile.
No matter what your thoughts are on it, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. You don't need to sit a special way, have any special equipment, meditate for hours, or even chant anything. Meditation is mindfulness. Taking notice of how you prepare and eat a meal, being fully present with each forkful instead of watching TV. Noticing what is growing and happening around you as you walk instead of daydreaming. Noticing the thoughts that come into your mind as you lay in savasana and letting them go. Noticing the feelings that come up as you drive, not reacting to them and letting them pass. Once you start adding in mindfulness in these little ways, you may want to add in 5 minutes before you go to bed of sitting in quiet and focusing on your breath. Don't beat yourself up if you get distracted, just breathe in and as you exhale let the thought or feeling go. It seems so simple, but it's harder than you'd expect. There are lots of guided meditations available to help you focus as it can get frustrating how often our minds wander.
So why meditate? Meditation offers many benefits: it reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, helps with insomnia, improves focus, helps with weight loss (mindfulness while eating), helps with chronic fatigue, and helps with memory along with many other benefits. Quieting our minds and learning how to let feelings and thoughts pass through us, instead of consuming us, helps us to think more clearly, so that we act from a place of calmness instead of reacting off our emotions.