Make it a Healthy habit
With anything worth doing, unless your doing it on a regular basis you might as well not be doing it at all. Did you know that it only takes 2 weeks of good cardio (at least 1 hour total a week) to get your heart in shape? That is to say, your heart will be as toned as it can get in 2 weeks, but the downside of that is that it looses the muscle tone in the same amount of time. Making it a habit is the only way to reap the long term benefits.
Meditation is no different. It takes about 21 days to establish any habit with consistent repartition. Set aside a little time each day to mediate and do it for at least a month to set it as a healthy habit!
Stop making excuses
I often find that when I am stressed out, worried or not feeling well its just a bit easier to say "maybe later". The truth is that this is really when you need mediation the most. Studies suggest that mediation reduces stress, elevates mood, increases attention span and a myriad of other benefits. If you use mediation to help handle stress, stress no longer becomes an excuse not to take action and feel better.
How do you meditate?
In the most common use of mediation is to quiet the mind and establish a deeply relaxed state. On of the best ways to quiet the mind is to give it a task. Transcendental mediation is one well known form of mediation that uses a mantra, that is a sound or phrase repeated over and over. To do something similar to this, pick a peaceful word or phrase and focus on it, repeating it gently in your mind. You can also choose sacred sounds like OM, AH, or HU. You can look up the meaning of these sacred sounds on-line and there are tons more for you to try.
Focusing on your breath is another great way to occupy the mind and establish a peaceful meditative state. Sit quietly and begin to be aware of your body, focus on the sensations coming from it such as the feel of your clothing or the chair your sitting in. Turn your attention in on your breath. Feel how your breath expands and contracts in your chest and stomach, and how the air feels going in and out of your nose. Practicing this will help calm and quiet the mind more and more each time you meditate.
How to stop the Monkey Mind
Thoughts are not the enemy here. Yes we are trying to keep the mind occupied and quiet, but occasionally thoughts are going to pop up, they always do. To help deal with these thoughts here are a few tips. Observe the thought, just allow it to show up and do its thing. The thoughts will flutter in like butterflys and they will just as easily drift away when left to their own devices. Gently turn your attention back to your breathing after a moment and continue mediating.
In extreme cases where you have a deep worry or fear that is nagging the back of your mind, you can try the little black box technique. When you feel yourself getting distracted by nagging thoughts, imagine a small black box not unlike a jewelry box, complete with a little clasp and lock. You will imagine your worry in a symbolic form, such as a bill or letter, or maybe even your boss's disembodied head with that annoying glare and simply put it in the box. Mentally repeat the thought "I am putting these thoughts here for safe keeping, I will return to them soon when I am ready." and imagine the box locked tight. Your not locking it away forever, only temporarily till your ready to deal with them again. I have found this technique to work wonders for maintaining a peaceful head-space during mediation.
Keep it up, practice makes perfect with any valuable skill. Meditate for at least 15 minuets each day every day. You may not realize the benefits early on but with consistent practice you will begin to notice a more peaceful mood filling your day.
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