Meditation: What is it and How Does it Work?!
You may have heard recently about the numerous benefits of Meditation. Are you curious to start your own meditation practice; but have no clue where to begin? First off, let’s talk about the benefits and then I can help you dive in!
Meditation is the art of focusing your mind and redirecting your thoughts. Often times we have so many thoughts going on at once and it zaps us of our energy and concentration. It’s like having all of the tabs open on your computer at once. Instead of staying with one thing for a while, you keep bouncing back and forth between many things. In this day and age of information and immediate gratification, it can be hard to stay focused on one topic. Meditation is a useful tool and one that can be easily done anytime and anywhere to help stop the mind chatter and get us back to a place of focus and inner awareness. It’s hard to be conscious of ourself and our thoughts and actions, if we are all over the place. Meditation allows us to get grounded in the present moment and connect with our deepest self and find our center.
Meditation can reduce stress, control anxiety, help treat addictions, make us kinder, lengthen our attention span, help with age related memory loss, aid in better sleep, control pain and decrease blood pressure. Wow right?! I mean something so simple can do so much for us. It’s just a matter of carving out the space and time and focusing on one thing (the breath, a mantra, an image, a sound or our body) so the rest of our thoughts can relax for a while.
Meditation also teaches us be mindful and grateful for every breath we take. We breath over 20,000 breaths a day unconsciously. Imagine if you took even five to ten minutes to watch your breath and notice how lucky you are to be alive. Meditation helps us be more self-loving which in turn makes us more loving and kind to others.
My Recent Meditation Certification
I recently completed my meditation certification from The Mindfulness Center. I’ve always had a meditation practice; and studied it during my yoga teacher trainings; but nothing as in depth as this 160 hour course. I found it life changing, seriously! I was forced to really create time and space in my busy day to connect with myself and my breath and let everything else go. We get so caught up in the doing, we forget to just be. It’s amazing how once you take time to meditate, you find you have even more time in your day. You’ve slowed things down and you can focus and accomplish more when you’re concentrated and connected.
How to begin
Well first of all you can mediate with me at www.onepeloton.com live or on demand use this link! You can also pick something that resonates best with you and begin with that. For some, it’s easiest to watch the breath. Close your eyes, find a comfortable position and take full deep breaths in and out through your nose. When you mind wanders come back gently to a simple phrase in your mind, “Breathe in, Breathe out”. Keep repeating that until all you want to do is stay with your breath. You’ll be surprised!
Some find it easier to use a count on the breath. 4-7-8 is a popular breath technique. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 7, release the breath on a count of 8. Keep coming back to this count and the breath for as long as you can. The square breath works too. Count up one side of a square for 4 counts, hold across the top for 4 counts, breath out down the other side of the square, then hold empty for the bottom 4 counts. You can also choose any number for your inhale and exhale such as a count of 6 on the breath in and a count of 6 on the breath out. Maybe the count gets longer as your breath gets deeper.
Having A Mantra
Some prefer to have a mantra that is special for them or a phrase that they can come back to. Anything will do from, “Calm Mind, Open Heart” to “Inhale Peace, Exhale Distress” you can play around with a phrase that helps you focus and you can choose different ones to illicit different feelings. If you are tired you can breathe in energy and let go of fatigue. If you are angry, you can breathe in calm, exhale anger” the list goes on and on. There is no right or wrong when it comes to meditation, only a practice and it’s your practice. It’s a way to get to know yourself better and clear the mental chatter so you can connect to a deeper voice inside of you.
Some people like to light a candle and cast their gaze on it while meditating or listen to a chime or bell or chant that helps refocus their mind in the present. Set a timer and start with just five minutes and see where it takes you.
Body Scan Meditation
Other’s like to use a body scan meditation and go through each body part gently relaxing that area until you have gone from head to toe or vice versa. I love this one before bed at night. You can meditate for performance, before a speech, or race or exam.
I also LOVE my friend, Dave Romanelli, I have done his meditation courses for years. I love how insightful he is and how he brings something new to every meditation. Click this link to sign up and get a code for a discount.
However you go about it, don’t be hard on yourself. It’s the exact opposite, this is a time to be loving, kind and gentle with yourself. Just start slowly and try even a few minutes a day of focusing on your breath and notice the space it creates in your mind and the relaxation it brings to your body.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!