The act of creating a space and time to meditate every day can be a wonderful first step toward a new way of thinking. One of the most effective functions of meditation practice is that it helps us to break away from the “observe-react” mode and into the “observe-THINK-react” mode. The world is highly anxious right now, and the temptation to snap or bite back is strong.
Relax and Center
Meditation should be comfortable. Find a comfy spot to sit. If needed, listen to a guided meditation or turn on some soft music. Light a candle to focus on, or simply close your eyes. Use a timer to break the urge to take a peek at the clock to see if you’re done yet. If you’re anxious about time, you’re not done yet.
Your goal is to get to a center of calm. Meditating can’t make you happy or sad, but it can make you aware of those feelings and emotions. It can also make you aware of what happens in your body when you sense those emotions.
Do you have a co-worker or family member who tends to upset you? If thoughts of this person come up during your meditation, consider the intensity of your response and the physical manifestation. Do you scowl? Do your shoulders get tense? Your meditation session is the time to determine these things. Now, when you next have to deal with that person, you can release those centers of physical tension and hopefully shed the bad feelings about them as well.
Disconnect and Focus
The world is always busy trying to warn us about things to worry about. This is not necessarily a bad thing; we need to be informed citizens so we can make good choices. However, it’s easy to get ourselves tangled up in other people’s anxiety as we monitor and face dangers.
To avoid anxious feelings while remaining aware, a regular meditation practice can help. As you disconnect from your physical response to triggers, notice how you feel. Does your gut tighten when you think about the world, and how do you feel when you release that tension? It is possible to be aware of the world but not to own all the troubles in it, and meditation can help you to find a place of disconnection.
Accept and Try Again
Meditation is a practice. Like an athletic routine, meditating can sometimes go badly. You can turn on the same music, sit in the same chair, light the same candle, and still spend your meditation session thinking about lunch. You may find it impossible to shed a nattering thought about something you saw on social media or something that was said by a co-worker.
If you find that your practice is consistently disrupted, you may need to use a different tool. A guided meditation video may be what you need to get back on track, or you may need to shorten the time and do two smaller practices until you rebuild that ability to disconnect from what’s bothering you. Again, meditation is a time of emptying, of learning how you react to stressors and to recognize and release the response.
Practice and Improve
As you get better at returning to thoughts of your breath and to releasing emotions, you may find that you crave meditation. When you’re sleepy at work, find an empty conference room and meditate for five minutes. If your family is driving you up the wall at home, make sure everyone is safe and take just five minutes to uncouple your emotions from your physical state.
You may find that people notice that you seem calmer, or that they come to you to feel relaxed. Now is the time to teach and to share your secret. If your children are agitated and upset, invite them to join you for just a few minutes of meditation. Share your guided meditation videos with a friend. If you notice that a regular practice of emotional release has reduced physical challenges you used to struggle with, share your experiences with others who suffer.
Daily meditation is a marvelous way to protect your body from stress and to be a more loving force in the world. If you create a to-do list every day and despair because it’s never completed, meditate after writing it. Allow your brain to clear space for creative problem solving before you tackle your day.