Meditation can be a great mental health tool, but it is not for everyone.
If you hate to meditate, you are not alone. Meditation has some great benefits but it can be boring and time consuming. If you’re the type of person who is always on the go, then sitting quietly and meditating feels like the last thing you want to do. But meditation and mindfulness are all the rage right now, so there must be some good behind it, right?
Here are some tips if you’ve tried meditation unsuccessfully in the past, but are still determined to reap all the benefits of it.
Meditation, plainly speaking, is the act of focusing your thoughts. It is often associated with prayer, wellness retreats, mindfulness and yoga. But there are actually many different forms of meditation. If you think that meditation isn’t for you, then you probably just haven’t found the right way to do it.
The Benefits of Meditation
Everyone should look for a way to incorporate meditation into their self care routine, as it has so many different benefits. It might sound like something just for yogis or crunchy folk, but there is a lot of science behind it too. Stress is often caused by our brains working overtime, so meditation helps us to declutter our thoughts. By slowing down our minds, we can then focus in one at time.
Deep breathing and mindfulness are also a big part of meditation. If we take something that our body does automatically and start to pay attention to it, change it, control it, lengthen and shorten it – we feel a sense of control. This is especially helpful when it feels like everything else in our life is out of our control. There have been studies done that prove mindfulness meditation has an effect on our brains.
Meditate While Lying in Bed
Whether it’s first thing in the morning as soon as you open your eyes, or the last thing you do at at night before falling asleep, lying in bed is a great time to meditate. Instead of reaching for your phone when that alarm clock goes off, lie still, take some deep breaths and think about your day.
- How do you want to feel today?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What are you worried about? Grateful for?
Simply being mindful before starting your day counts as meditation. Throughout the day, think about your answers and find ways to meet your goals.
At night, settle into that comfy spot in bed and take slow, deep breaths to help calm your body and mind. Reflect on your day, both the good and the bad.
- Did you meet the goals you set for yourself this morning?
- What do you want to change tomorrow?
- What is best thing that happened to you today? The worst?
Meditating while lying in bed is great for those who find it hard to fit meditation in throughout the day or are always on the go. Plus, some quiet meditation time before bed is a great way to battle insomnia.
Engage The Senses
Our senses play a big role in our mental health. The things we see, smell, hear, taste and touch can enhance the meditation process and make it more enjoyable. You can either focus on one or two of your senses at a time, or, for a full body experience, try to engage all the senses at once.
Closing our eyes during meditation is one way to eliminate distractions, but sometimes that can signal sleep which is a distraction in itself. An alternative would be to find a visual aid to focus on. It can be a photograph or art piece that brings you joy. Or focus on something that moves rhythmically, like a body of water, the trees blowing in the wind, a wind spinner, or an online visual aid.
You can find meditation playlists on nearly every music platform these days. Sounds play a significant role in meditation as they work to drown out noise and help us to stay focused within. Natural white noise like waves, thunderstorms, rain showers, bird calls, or Tibetan singing bowls are commonly used in meditation, but it doesn’t have to be slow and relaxing “spa” sounds. You can meditate to whatever sound you truly enjoy – even if it means listening to your favorite band or song.
With your skin being your body’s largest organ, it’s also your largest distraction. If you’re too hot or too cold, itchy or uncomfortable, you’re more likely to break your focus. Try meditating while sitting outside on a sunny day and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Sit in the grass or on the sand. Meditate while in a hot tub, sauna, pool or bathtub.
Enter aromatherapy. I’m talking about essential oils, diffusers, incense, candles or air fresheners. Inhaling scents that we love or that have various benefits can really enhance the process of meditation. Aromatherapy on it’s own can help to reduce stress and anxiety and using them during meditation is a great way to get a complete mental workout.
Meditating and a hot cup of herbal tea can be the perfect combination. If tea isn’t your thing, then meditate while drinking your morning coffee or smoothie. Meditate over a glass of wine or while indulging in your favorite dessert. Meditation can actually help to promote weight loss and a lot of that includes being mindful of what we ingest.
Try Active Meditation
A common complaint about meditation is that it’s boring. Instead of doing meditation the traditional way, give active meditation a try. This consists of doing something meditative while being mindful. It’s a way to engage the physical part of our brain so that we can truly focus on the mental part that controls our stress and anxiety levels.
Some ways to practice active meditation include:
- walk, run or cycle
- stretch or do yoga
- play an instrument
- knit or crochet
- color or draw
- wash the dishes, fold the laundry, etc.
You can actually meditate while doing any mundane and ordinary task. While your hands and body are busy, be mindful of your breathing and your thoughts. If your mind wanders, try to bring it back to your thought and breath. This is a great option for busy moms and those who don’t have 20 minutes to sit quietly and meditate.
Location, Location, Location
Where you meditate can also be key to achieving meditation success. As mentioned before, lying in bed is a great place to do it as you’re already comfortable and relaxed. Being comfortable should be a priority, but it’s also important to find a place free of distractions. If you need to, put on some noise cancelling headphones and shut or cover your eyes.
Try changing up the locations where you meditate so it doesn’t become too redundant. Try meditating outdoors. Meditate while in the shower. Meditate on the bus or subway. Drive out to the country and meditate in a field of flowers. Finding new places to meditate can make it more of an exciting challenge than a daily chore.
Download an app
If you find it difficult to meditate on your own and need a little guidance, then consider downloading a meditation app. Most apps are designed to help you stay consistent and offer variations based on what you want to work on. They also track your progress, which is encouraging for many. There are so many meditation apps that it all really comes down to preference.
Some of the most popular ones include:
[Here’s some info on them, plus more!]
Meditation shouldn’t feel like a chore or something that you must do. It’s a mental exercise, and like physical exercise, even a little bit is better than nothing. If you can’t fit in a 20 minute meditation session, then start with 5 minutes and gradually work your way up. Over time, it will become second nature to take a moment of your day to be present and mindful.
And most importantly, remember that there is no wrong or right way to meditate. At the end of a session, if you feel relaxed and less stressed, then it’s working! Trying to keep up with the latest meditation trends can cause even more stress. Find what works for you and you’ll be more inclined to stick with it. For even more tips, check out this article from DIYogi.