We’ve all been there. You wake up at 5 a.m. with your mind full of thoughts for the upcoming day. Are you prepared for today’s meeting? Did you sign the permission slip for your child’s class trip? No matter how hard you try to chase those thoughts from your head, you just can’t and you’re awake for the day when you could get a few more hours of sleep. Later in the day you are exhausted and look for that extra cup of coffee to keep you awake, which really isn’t the best way to address the issue. The next morning it starts all over again with a different set of worries. You feel like there is no way to escape this vicious cycle.
Some people welcome this interruption – such as writers and artists who feel their best work is done early in the morning before their mind is fully cluttered with the thoughts of the day. For most, however, it is nothing more than an inconvenience that leaves you exhausted and walking the halls for two hours when you could be sleeping.
There are some who feel like meditation is a waste of time or an excuse to “be lazy,” but this is far from the truth. Meditation is a wonderful way to chase the “thought demons” that interrupt a quality night’s sleep as well as our daily worries. The best part is anyone can do it.
A perfect example of someone who learned the benefits of meditation is ABC News reporter Dan Harris. What started with an on-air panic attack turned into a quest to turn what he thought was his greatest asset — the voice in his head that helped push him to the top of an incredibly competitive business — into understanding how to rein in that voice so he could have a more meaningful life experience. His quest led him around the world and ultimately helped him find inner peace through meditation.
What made this most challenging for him is that he was a complete non-believer. Over time he became such a believer, he wrote a book called 10% Happier, documenting his path to embrace mindful meditation and how even the biggest skeptics can get started.
Like Harris says, the path of meditation does not require special equipment, chanting or sitting in uncomfortable poses. All it takes to start is putting your inner voice on the shelf.
You don’t need anything special to get started on your journey, including a lot of time. Mindful meditation is all about calming your mind, which can help calm the nervous energy and negative talk that seems to creep into our head.
Find a comfortable sitting position. You can purchase a meditation cushion, or even lay on the floor, but by just simply using a comfy chair, you can literally have a short meditation session anywhere. Sit with an engaged spine and close your eyes. What is most important is to make sure you feel relaxed and comfortable. If you are uncomfortable, you will fidget and not enjoy your meditation.
Set a timer. Just about every smartphone has a timer. If not, there are plenty of apps available for download. Start out with a short time period, like five or 10 minutes. Just make sure it isn’t a jarring alarm. Make sure to turn off any other alerts or ringtones to avoid interruption.
Relax. You are ready to begin. Inhale and exhale evenly. With each exhale relax and let go further. Soften the corners of your eyes, tongue, and neck. Quiet your mind.
Bring your mind back when it starts to wander. Everyone’s mind will wander when you are meditating, especially when you are just beginning. Acknowledge the thought and gently bring your mind back to a calm feeling.
What is most important is don’t worry if you are “doing it right.” Mindful meditation is different for every person. Many choose to do their meditation first thing in the morning before the craziness of the day. Others like to head to their car at lunch for a quiet few minutes. As you become more comfortable with your meditation practice, the more you will want to do it!