We look to every new year as an opportunity to start fresh and change our behaviors. If you don’t start immediately on New Year’s Day, it can feel like you’re behind or that you might as well wait for next year. In reality, you can have your new beginning whenever you want, and there is a simple way to get in the right mindset to do so.
2020 was an unbelievably challenging year for almost all of us. It challenged me to get comfortable with myself and feel valid in who I am and what I do. I found myself focused on what I didn’t have, and the more that became the focus, there was more of that to notice and feel. It wasn’t until I decided to return to consistent meditation that I could see the world around me for what it truly is and shift my perspective.
When most people picture mediation, they usually imagine someone sitting criss-cross and repeating the “Om” mantra for hours at a time. Even though that can be how some practice, meditation for beginners can take a much simpler approach. At its core, meditation is consistent breathwork, quieting the mind, and takes no more than five minutes to accomplish.
It can be done anywhere and anytime, and there is no “correct” way to do it. If quieting your mind sounds difficult, don’t fret. Many people encounter “monkey mind,” where thoughts continue popping up in our minds while trying our best to quiet them. This doesn’t mean it is being done wrong but rather tests that you can acknowledge those thoughts, return to the focus on your breath and find stillness again.
To begin, find a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in, hold it, and let it out. Counting your breaths from 1-10 is a simple way to monitor your deep breathing. Thoughts may pop up, but you simply acknowledge them, reflect on why they are bothering you, then let them go and return to your breath. Scan your body for any discomfort, consciously release any tension, and you will quickly find your body entering a deep relaxation. Allow yourself at least five minutes initially, and set the alarm, so you know when to stop. You will finish your practice feeling refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes your way. As you become more confident in your ability to quiet your mind, you can extend the amount of time you meditate for, but this is something to approach from a quality perspective rather than trying to do it as long as possible.
Some great apps for those that are new to meditation are the Headspace app or 10% Happier. These apps can provide reminders, new insights, and the ability to track how often you meditate. There are also plenty of free videos on Youtube from gurus worldwide and free virtual mediation classes through the Mindbody app. There is an enormous number of resources to assist you in your practice, but none of them are needed to find your flow or get started.
Immediately after meditation, your mind will feel refreshed, and your body will be more relaxed. More so than that, meditation has been proven to help with various conditions, such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, and pain. Some research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and insomnia. Even research suggests meditation can physically change the brain and body, potentially helping to improve health problems and promote healthy behavior. Though it does not replace conventional care, it can help you cope and react, help you refresh and shift your perspective.