By now everyone has heard about the benefits of meditation and why practicing it is a key factor in creating a stress-free life. Mediation can increase happiness and self-awareness, and has been to shown to improve concentration, benefit cardiovascular and immune health, and even slow the aging process. Along with exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep, it’s basically one of the best things we can do to live a healthier lifestyle. So why isn’t everyone doing it? Probably because most people believe meditation to be this daunting task that requires loads of time and laser focus. And they’re also not quite sure how to do it even if they could fit it into their schedules because, realistically, there are very few “How to Meditate” classes being offered at the local gym.
The truth is, you don’t have to be Buddha levitating over a mountaintop in order to reap the benefits of meditation. It really can be an easy and effective way to find more joy in your life and doesn’t need to take up a lot of time. Try incorporating the following 4 simple practices into your daily routine to lower your stress levels and increase your peace.
- Is someone driving you nuts? Your boss, teenager, or noisy neighbor? Instead of taking their actions personally, try imagining that person surrounded by a big ball of white light. Once you can see that, send loving thoughts their way. Remember that, just like you, they are only doing the best that they know how to do with the information that they have at this time. Envision them in a glowing sphere and send love their way until you feel lighter. Smile, let them go, and get on with your day.
- A great way to stop overwhelm in its tracks is by practicing a mini-grounding session: stand up and kick off your shoes, place your feet firmly on the ground, close your eyes, and imagine that the bottom of your feet have roots. Now picture those roots growing down into the ground. Keep the visual going until you’ve hit China or you’re breathing deeply and ready to get back to the task at hand.
- When your stress levels are at their highest, try the Tibetan Buddhist sky-gazing meditation. Find someplace where you can see the sky and sit down. If you can’t see the actual sky from where you are, pull up a picture of it on your computer. Keep your gaze on the sky or monitor while taking long, deep breaths. Fully concentrate on your breath: watch your exhaled breath sail into the clear, blue sky. Follow your breath in and out, noticing how it dissolves into the blue space in front of you. Continue until you feel calm.
- If you find yourself distracted and unable to focus, try this: get into a seated position and concentrate on your breath. Think of a word that either brings to mind serenity or one that you would like to embody, such as “peace,” “love,” “bliss,” etc. As you inhale, say the word “I” to yourself. On the exhale, say “am” and whatever the word was that you chose. I (inhale) (exhale) am love. I (inhale) (exhale) am peace. I (inhale) (exhale) am enough. If your minds starts to wander, simply bring it back to your silent mantra without judgement and continue until you feel ready to take on the rest of your day.