I was 13 years old when my parents introduced me to Transcendental Meditation (TM). Receiving a mantra at a young age was a powerful invitation to turn within and learn to trust and listen to myself. I learned that I was able to control my thoughts by interrupting negative thoughts patterns with my mantra and I developed that habit of meditating when I was angry or frustrated rather than acting out people or things around me.
Modern science has now shown us that meditation has a myriad of health and wellness benefits including:
Greater concentration, focus and memory
Activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (relaxation response)
Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
Builds emotional resilience
Increases creativity and new ideas
My meditation practice since then has greatly evolved including forms on mindfulness, guided visualization, and yoga practices. But my TM mantra is still a sacred sound that guides me in the darkest of days. With everything that I've learned from meditation, I've realized that a successful meditation practice is not following a strict guideline from others or a traditional practice, but rather experimenting and exploring to see what works best for you, your schedule, and your mind.
We are all different. We have different ways that we relax and unwind, we think and create differently, and all have different schedules and circumstances. For that reason I don't think there is one correct way to meditate, instead it is up to you to find what works best for you.
With that said here are a few pointers to explore to see what type of meditation call your name, ways that you can start meditating, and tips of how to integrate it as a practice in your life!
A successful meditation practice is not following a strict guideline from others or a traditional practice, but rather experimenting and exploring to see what works best for you, your schedule, and your mind.
Explore Different Types of Meditation:
The beautiful thing about meditation is that there are several different types of meditation all that are experienced very differently but end with very similar results. The nine most popular forms of meditation are:
Exploring these different models of meditation is a great way to see what form of meditating speaks to you! For me it is a combination of meditations that I use at different times. Sometimes I need more movement to release anxiety or excess energy, other times I need a more focused and still meditation if I feel like I need to turn within and gain clarity on a question in life.
Thankfully, today there are endless resources on all these difference forms of meditation. I love meditation apps like Calm, Headspace, and Buddhify that offers different types of meditations and help you build a practice. Searching on YouTube is a great, free resources for all sorts of different meditations, just type in what you want to learn and new guided meditation will come up!
I also do my Mindfulness Monday Meditations every week, which is a fun way to incorporate a mindfulness meditation to the beginning of your week. Each meditation is on a different subject and includes a little guided visualization to help you train you mind to think more creatively and positively!
You can follow these under my Instagram (@jnelsonwellness) and my YouTube channel JNelsonWellness.
Another key to a successful meditation practice is staring small. When training our mind and body to meditate it can be difficult to jump into long, consecutive meditations. Our mind naturally wanders and our brain is made is to think. But the essence of meditation is not to stop thinking, but rather focus and quiet our thoughts allowing them to pass through, like clouds passing through sky, not getting emotionally attached to them and questioning their purpose, just witnessing them and letting them be a part of our experience.
Setting an attainable goal like stating to meditate for 5-10 minutes in the morning or evening is a great way to get a sense of how you feel after a little meditation and how it can fit into your schedule. Using apps like Calm or Headspace is an effective way to make these timed meditations a part of your routine as they offer daily meditations at different lengths of time around various subjects.
Make It a Routine/Ritual:
Meditation like yoga is a practice. The more you do it the easier and more effective is becomes. So although you want to start small, it is important to continue to practice it. Starting once a week, or once a day is a good way to see what can fit into your schedule. It is also helpful to be flexible. Meditation is not something that should feel like a task but rather a tool that is there to help you relax and refresh.
I like to think of my meditation practice as a ritual for self-care. Every routine a have in my day helps me align my mind, body and spirit to function at my highest! Looking at our meditation practice as a ritual can help place a sacredness to the act that gives a deeper intention and healing. When I wake up, I get on my yoga mat and have a 10-20min practice of my own that helps me get in the right mindset for the day ahead.
This includes breath-work, affirmations, journaling and stretching to help wake up my mind body and spirit and check in with myself to see where I am at that day. I also end my day with a similar practice, but this time I use my breath-work, affirmations, and stretching to reflect and let go of the day so I can unwind detach myself from anything I do not want to hold to.
Create Your Own Intentions and Reasons for Meditating:
To make a meditation practice uniquely yours it is important to have your own intentions and reasons behind why you want to meditate. Learning to mediate is a hot topic right now and everyone is promoting the practice. Though this is an incredible movement, it is helpful to think of your own motivations for wanting to learn to meditate.
When my parents introduced me to meditation at 13 years old they told me there experience with meditation and asked me if this is something that I would like to learn. At first I honestly had no idea what I was jumping into but something in me said yes! Little did I know that meditation would turn into my a huge aspect of my studies and career.
Meditation for me now is my sacred space. When I feel lost, un-grounded, or imbalanced, meditation is a tool I use to help me listen to my intuition, ground into my body, and regain harmony between all parts of myself.
So what motivates you to mediate? And how can you make our meditation practice as unique as you?