My second post in this series of simple steps toward Holistic Wellness, is about meditation. I have written on the topic of meditation before, and I note there is always a lot of interest in the topic…but little follow-through. I feel this is often because of two things – people over complicate the concept of meditation and people underestimate the benefits of meditation.
When I talk of Holistic Wellness, I’m talking about living a balanced life. I often use this graphic to explain the four main areas of self and what they entail. It is not all inclusive, but should give you an idea of what I mean.
Now here is that same graphic, but it lists benefits of meditation.
I created this to show people how this one small action can impact every aspect of self.
I hear many meditation gurus say that you must meditation for 30 minutes, twice a day for it to be effective. While others, including myself, know this is untrue. In a perfect world, yes...an hour a day of meditation would be fabulous. And maybe one day, you can work up to that amount. But for a beginner, that is just completely overwhelming. Who has that kind of time? And if you are new to meditation, 30 minutes is just too much. In reality, just 5 minutes… or 3 minutes…even 1 minute is a great place to start and will be beneficial. In fact, I always recommend starting very slow. You can always meditate longer if it’s feeling good and you find yourself enjoying time in the gap…but you shouldn’t feel bad about only meditating for 2 minutes either.
So let’s talk about meditation. You don’t have to sit cross legged in a special meditation space (although you can if you want to). You can meditate in a dining room chair, in your car, at your desk, lying on the floor, on the toilet (for some people that’s the only place they can find peace and quiet)! You can even meditate while walking, hula hooping, eating or doing the dishes.
The simplest definition for meditation I have found is “mindfulness”. You can turn any activity into a meditation by simply being completely present. While you are washing a dish, focus completely on what you are doing. The temperature of the water, the way the dish soap smells, the texture of the dish cloth, the feel of the water running over your hands as you rinse the dish, the clang as dishes touch each other. Taking moments to be completely present in what we are doing is a great first step in meditation.
If you want something a little more formal, find a quiet area…sit in a comfortable chair with your legs uncrossed and your spine straight. Place your hands comfortably on your lap. Close your eyes and take a couple deep relaxing breaths, exhaling with a sigh. This will help you release tension from your body. As you breathe normally, simply focus on your breath. Feel the air on the space between your nose and your lips, feel the breath in you nostrils and on the back of your throat, feel your chest extend and contract, hear the sound of you breathing…focus completely on the breath. When your mind wanders (and it will, because minds are made for thoughts), just let the thoughts float away and bring your attention back on the breath. Do this for as long as you desire. When you are done, take a nice deep, cleansing breath in…you may want to reach your hands over your head for a gentle stretch…then slowly exhale as lower your arms and slowly open your eyes and bring yourself back to reality.
It’s not difficult, and it’s worth every moment. How can you be more mindful during your day?
Give meditation a try, and let me know about your experiences!
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.