You’ve heard me say it before, and you’ll probably never stop hearing me say it – breathing is underrated.
The simple act of breathing has helped me with everything from relieving stress to increasing focus, to even helping me gain self-confidence. A lot can happen when you pay attention to your breath.
Meditation isn’t a cure-all, but it can certainly help lead you toward increased mindfulness (the ability to be present and fully aware), making room for a healthy sense of perspective. Whether you’re thinking about giving it a try, or you’ve tried it a few times and found yourself unsuccessful, consider the meditations tips below.
1. Do it before you start your day
Although it’s not impossible, it’s extremely difficult to meditate when your mind is distracted. I’ve learned that I meditate better when I do it prior to text conversations, scrolling through social media and pretty much anything else. It helps me feel fresh, and it’s the perfect time for me to set some intentions for the rest of the day.
2. Start small, but finish each session through
There’s no need to pressure yourself into intense hour-long meditation sessions. To this day, when I’m just “not feeling it” I keep my meditations short. Start with five-minute sessions, then gradually move up to 10 minutes, 20 minutes and so on. Regardless of how long you decide to go for, commit to completing each session. If you say you’re going to meditate for 10 minutes, finish the 10 minutes.
I feel the same way about meditating as I do about hitting the gym – sometimes I don’t want to do it, but when I do it and complete the session, nine times out of 10, I feel better after. Push through, baby! You got this!
3. Focus on your breathing
One of the most popular meditation tips…you’ve probably heard this one before, and thought “Wtf does that even mean?” Simply put, this is among the first and easiest steps to practicing mindfulness and awareness.
Mediation doesn’t have to be some gnarly thing where you picture the ocean or peaceful place (although it can be). We are all breathing at every moment of our day, but we don’t often stop to notice or pay attention to it. I enjoy using my meditation sessions as a chance to notice my breath and how I am breathing. Notice if you are breathing fast or slow, and how your body feels as the air enters and leaves your lungs. Most of all, appreciate your breath and let each one fill you with renewed energy. I take many deep breathes throughout the day, and I find it helps me feel re-aligned.
4. Start with yoga
If you’re not used to it, sitting in silence by yourself can feel weird. If you find yourself feeling silly or uncomfortable, begin your introduction to meditation with some yoga. Find a short beginners yoga video on YouTube. This might help you feel less awkward and introduce you to breathing techniques while simultaneously stretching and awakening your body. I love YouTube yoga videos – sometimes more than in-person classes!
5. Find a guided mediation online
Depending on my mood, I still use guided meditations online. Again, YouTube is a lovely thing.
There are different guided meditations online and on mobile apps with various purposes ranging from feeling relaxed, positive, focused, etc. I personally like guided meditations that don’t include any background music or sounds. For some reason, sounds and music distract me from focusing on me. I like silence and meditations that help me focus on feeling my breath, body and surroundings (this is probably due to my Vipassana meditation roots).
Try different ones out, see what you like. You might even find a favorite meditation channel or guide to subscribe to.
6. Do what works best for you
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you have to follow any rules, or tell you that you’re doing it wrong. As with all health and wellness things, you should always go with what makes you feel your best. Test the waters, pick techniques you like from various practices and create your own regimen. And whenever you feel it’s time to change your regimen, feel free to do that.
When all else fails, just take a few deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Try not to put any unnecessary pressure on yourself throughout your meditation journey – this is a journey strictly for you.