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Meditation: How To Get Started & How It Can Help

Written by Rebekah Cook

Photography by James Kicinski-McCoy

Ever have days where everything feels out of grasp? There’s no doubt that the expectations placed on today’s mother can take its toll. Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired, anxious, hungry, overweight, and worried are common concerns for parents. But what if we told you that setting aside just a few minutes a day can start to make you feel like you’ve taken back control? It’s no gimmick! For thousands of years, people have used meditation as a form of medicine, in one way or another. With daily practice, you can see and feel an array of benefits. And guess what? It doesn’t take much to get started!

The Benefits. People who have applied regular practice have found that it can help with many health concerns. It’s said to increase immunity, social connection, energy levels, memory, and resilience during hard times, while also decreasing anxiety, depression, and stress. Other benefits include lowering high blood pressure, helping to fight diseases, encouraging weight-loss, aiding insomnia, and improving one’s metabolism, attention, and empathy. It can help develop intuition, generate helpfulness, and overall, make you happier.

Getting Started. It doesn’t have to take a full hour of your time and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home (or office, car, park, or bathroom)!

Download An App. There are several apps available to help guide you through those first steps. The Headspace App is essentially a virtual meditation coach that will bring you through a series of exercises to help teach the practice of meditation. The app makes you do the work to make sure you’re fully ready for each new step. Another meditation app, Calm, gives an option similar to Headspace where you go through a program to learn the practice of meditation. It also allows you to pick the allotted time you have available, as well as what type of benefits you’re wanting to achieve, from “calm,” to “deep sleep,” “anxiety release,” “confidence,” and more.

Find A Class. For some people, having an instructor in the room can give more of an authentic experience and make you feel more comfortable. You’d be surprised how many meditation teachers you can find in your city. The disadvantage is that it might not fit into everyone’s schedule to attend a regular weekly class. Though if you can, awesome!

Books And Tools Can Help. If you like to do your research and you want a more thorough introduction, check out The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh and Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield. Some people also use crystals or stones to assist in obtaining an authentic meditative state. Any type of healing stone can be used during meditation, but blue, purple, and clear stones are said to help calm the body, clear the mind, and aid in reaching a higher state of consciousness.

Just Do It. If you haven’t had the time to download the apps or simply aren’t interested in that route, no problem! Set a timer for the amount of time you have available—whether you have 2 minutes or half an hour. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and back up against the wall (or a chair is fine). Relax your shoulders. Keep your eyes closed and your mouth shut with your jaw relaxed and your tongue heavy (not on the roof of your mouth). Start focusing your attention on your breath—inhaling and exhaling in and out of your nose. As things start coming to your mind (thoughts from the day, noises you hear around you), acknowledge them and bring your focus back to your breath. At first, this portion may take a long time to successfully master. Just remember, every time your thoughts wonder from your breathing, simply acknowledge that you have those thoughts (or hear those noises, etc.) and bring your focus back to your breath—in your nose, out your nose. Continue this exercise for the duration of the allotted time you have available. At the end of your practice, think of one word or one action you’d like to work on throughout the day. Lastly, get up slowly, drink a glass of water, and carry on.

Applying The Practice. If you can schedule meditation so that you are practicing at the same time every day, that’s wonderful! You will definitely feel the benefits. Practice meditation whenever you can squeeze it in or anytime you start to feel overwhelmed. It’s better to practice a few minutes a day than several minutes once a week. So, before screaming into a pillow, grabbing a drink, or even phoning a friend, give meditation a try. Those of you who already practice meditation, what benefits have you seen? Any other tips to get started?

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