Julie Euseppi, LCSW
Starting a daily meditation practice.
There are many benefits to sustaining a regular mediation practice- decreased stress, increased focus, improved sleep, increased self-control, improvements in blood pressure, metabolism, and heart rate. With all of these benefits, it can still feel daunting.
Beginning a meditation practice does not have to be daunting nor does it have to be time consuming. A study from Waterloo University found just 10minutes of mediation can help anxious people have better focus. Just 10minutes was particularly effective if you tend to have repetitive, anxious thoughts, which I would venture to guess we all do with the pandemic, the changes and uncertainty the virus has brought with it.
Think of starting a meditation practice as if you are teaching a child to brush their teeth. In this case you are learning to floss the mind of worry. This attitude helps you to conceptualize the daily need for daily mental health.
Our inner child and monkey mind is quite resistant to even a 10-minute practice so we want to reinforce and build skill over time. We are rewiring our brains and laying down new neural pathways, that takes time and patience. So, start out small, very small with a 2-minute practice and build one minute each day. Just think in 9 days you will have achieved 10-minutes! Yay!
In order build a platform for success, set a time each day often morning or evening is best. I set a reminder on my phone that goes off at the same time each day. Now what to focus on? Well it just so happens that we have our own natural metronome. It is our breath. We can focus on the inhalation and the exhalation. How the breath fills the body on the inhalation and how the body condenses on the exhalation. Noticing how it travels through the body and the path it takes. We sense the coolness of air as it enters the nostrils even following the coolness down the nasal pathways and the warmth as it exits. When my mind wanders and I am down some rabbit hole, I can always just turn back to my breath. Every time I wake up from my mind wandering and I turn back, I have been successful in refocusing and I am right back to the present moment.
Remember learning meditation is about building the muscle of focus and attention, release the goal of stillness, we are learning to return to our practice and that building the muscle of remaining present.
Try it for 1 week and then build your practice to 2 weeks, and then to 21 days, and pretty soon you will have set into motion like brushing your teeth a daily practice of meditation. You can take it past 10 minutes or just keep it there. Remember you get the same benefits per the study. If you fall off the boat start again with 2 minutes and build again.
Like any habit we are trying to change or implement, it is made easier with the support of others, so get the whole family involved! Or create a meditation challenge with a friend or friends. Start today and let me know how it goes!