Jan. 1, 2018A new year is here, and with it the requisite flood of resolutions. Gyms are brimming with enthusiastic new members, holiday treats have been kicked to the curb — yes, it’s a sparkling fresh year and the perfect time to adopt positive habits. While many are quick to write off the efficacy of new year’s resolutions, choosing the right resolutions could make a huge positive impact on all areas of life. Topping many people’s lists this year will be a simple habit that’s surprisingly difficult to adhere to: meditation.
If you’ve tried meditation in the past and failed, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Starting a regular meditation practice can be frustrating, especially if you’re new to the idea. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor and you don’t have to chant to begin meditating and reap the rewards (unless you really, truly want to… chanting can be surprisingly calming!). Meditation can indeed be simple, and regular meditation could have an enormous impact on overall wellbeing.
Studies have shown that regular meditation can actually have a variety of positive effects on the brain, including increased GABA production (a neurotransmitter that could reduce anxiety), increased grey matter, heightened dopamine production (the “happy” chemical) and decreased amygdalae (the part of the brain associated with fear)… just to name a few. Incorporating meditation into your day may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are three easy ways to start meditating. Ready to get started?
Use an App
For many, the act of meditating can feel daunting. We sit and attempt mindfulness, the inevitable thoughts rush in, and before we know it, we’re drafting a grocery list in our heads while slumped on the living room floor. If you’ve been struggling to kick off a successful meditation practice, an app — like Headspace — could help. Excellent for beginners, Headspace offers a variety of different levels with customizable areas of focus, such as calm and performance. Other apps include Calm, whose paid feature allows you to access hyper-focused areas of meditation, such as loving-kindness (or “metta”); and Simple Habit, which features meditation classes hosted by a variety of teachers focusing on a wide variety of meditation types. Meditating with an app may sound counter-intuitive, but it could be the key in guiding you towards a more consistent daily practice. Meditation apps are especially useful for commuters and busy people who have trouble setting aside the time to devote to meditation – simply put your headphones in an follow along!
Focus on a Single Task
So often, our attention is pulled in a million different directions, it’s rare that we devote ourselves to a single task from start to finish. Contrary to what many people assume, meditation doesn’t have to involve chanting or take place in a stark white room with a single round pillow! Mindfulness meditation, the act of focusing your attention to the present moment, can be practiced anywhere, anytime, even while you do everyday tasks, like folding laundry or cooking.
The next time you’re feeling frazzled, try turning one task into a mindful meditation. For example, if you’re cooking, focus on the vibrant colors of the fresh vegetables in front of you, the way the water feels running over your hands as you rinse them, and the crisp sound they make when you carefully cut prepare them. Or if you’re folding laundry, focus on the feeling of the different fabrics in your hands while being conscious of your breath as it goes in through your nose and out through your mouth. With the right mindset, anything can become a meditation and opportunity to be mindful and present in the beauty of the everyday.
Start the Day Mindfully
It’s 6 a.m. and your alarm is blaring, what do you do? Hit ‘snooze’ and roll back over? Get up and immediately jump into the myriad of tasks and responsibilities that lie ahead? With the increasing demands of everyday life, it can be difficult to take time for yourself in the AM. However, this time is vital to wellbeing and could even lead to a more productive workday. Instead of hopping out of bed and rushing right into your day, try taking a few moments to stretch and feel the comfort of your bed. Then, slowly rise and sit at the edge of your bed, feet squarely on the floor, hands in your lap. Breathe. Clear your thoughts. Be present. Breathe…
You’ve just meditated. Congratulations! For some, it can be helpful to set an alarm for five minutes (to start) to help them sit for an allotted amount of time. However you choose to do it, sitting quietly before the start of the day can help you settle in and feel present so you’re better able to tackle all that lies ahead.
Do you meditate? Share your tips for beginning a meditation practice with us on Instagram or Facebook with @AvocadoMattress or #AvocadoGreenMagazine