When you think of meditation, what comes to mind? A yogi dressed in robes sitting on a mountaintop with his legs crossed, levitating a few feet in the air?
If you’ve never meditated before, there are often a lot of misconceptions about it. First of all, nothing’s going to happen to you. You’re not going to float away. You’re not going to have a mystical, magical experience. You’re not going to suddenly be able to figure out all of your problems in one sitting. And you’re not going to shut off your mind, go completely blank and somehow think about absolutely nothing. People often try to sit still with their legs crossed, telling themselves, “think nothing, think nothing, think nothing” and when they can’t completely shut off their mind, they figure they’re doing it wrong and they might as well just get up and do something.
Two of the most important messages I want to convey when it comes to meditation are:
1) Don’t overthink it
2) Don’t judge your practice
We judge so many things all day long – what we look like, what we wear, what we eat – we’re constantly in judgment mode. The practice of meditation is learning to go beyond judgment and just be with your breath.
Here’s a very easy meditation you can try on your own after reading this article.
The only thing you need is a comfortable place to sit, and it doesn’t have to be on the ground with your legs crossed, holding your fingers in funny positions. That can be really uncomfortable (nothing against any of you yogis who do that) but for meditation it really doesn’t matter how you sit. Try doing this for five minutes – you can set a timer on your phone before you begin.
Once you’re seated, I suggest closing your eyes if that’s comfortable for you. Your mouth can be open or closed, again whatever is most comfortable.
- Start by taking three deep breaths very slowly. Eventually settle into a natural rhythm of breathing, knowing throughout your practice that you’ll hear sounds. They are not distractions. They are not disruptions. It’s simply what’s happening around you as you breathe.
- Notice your mind as it wanders, jumping from thought to thought, and gently guide your attention, your focus, to your stomach or chest, breathing in and feeling it rise, and then breathing out and feeling it fall.
- If your mind wanders again, just acknowledge it and release the thought. Return your attention to your breath, letting go of expectations and letting go of judgments.
- At the end of your meditation, once again take three deep breaths.
When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes. How do you feel? It’s important to pay attention to how you feel right afterwards and compare it to how you typically feel throughout your day. Notice the difference if there is one, and ask yourself how you prefer to feel.
Our goal is to close the gap between how you feel right after meditating and how you feel all the time.
You can still be as driven, motivated, productive and successful as you want to be, but you can also have a mind that’s steady, clear, focused and calm.
Steven Covey says it takes three weeks to create a habit. My challenge to you is to do this simple meditation five minutes a day for three weeks, and then take a week off and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. See if you notice a difference in the people around you. What we’ve recognized with meditation is that it’s like an oxygen mask on an airplane – the practice initially is for us, but it extends into everyone around us and everything we do.
One of the reasons why a consistent practice of meditation is so beneficial for people with diabetes is that it helps reduce stress.
Living with a chronic condition day in and day out is challenging on so many levels, and there are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with it. Meditation is completely free and is an incredible tool we can use almost anywhere anytime. The only thing required is your breath.
So put the meditation challenge on your calendar.
Five minutes a day for three weeks. Hitting snooze for 10 minutes and calling that your meditation doesn’t count! If you don’t have five minutes, do it for three. If you don’t have three minutes, just take three deep breaths.
One of the biggest mistakes people make about meditation is thinking you have to be good at it.
Sitting and breathing is just sitting and breathing. You don’t have to be a pro. But it takes practice. The hardest part is making the time to do it. We’re busy people. But trust me, five minutes to take care of the most important thing in your life, which is your mental and emotional wellbeing, is worth it.