By Ashley Manson
“Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.” – Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
The mind, body and spirit are interconnected and each is equally important to our overall wellbeing. When each aspect of the self is generously and regularly nurtured, we can feel a greater sense of balance, and are better able to flourish in our lives.
Mindful meditation can feel like a daunting task. Most people have trouble quieting the mind and sitting still. Others just aren’t able to find time during their day to be alone in peace. But the truth is, meditation doesn’t have to be so intimidating. It’s not supposed to bring you anxiety at all, it’s supposed to calm your nervous system and reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body. A primary way to reduce the intimidation-factor is to let go of all expectations about what meditation is supposed to look and feel like.
Allow yourself to develop your own personal meditative practice. We all have a daily ritual, whether it’s enjoying a morning coffee, taking a shower, implementing a skincare regimen, or saying your prayers before bed. Just the same, meditation can be a short, regular practice that adds value to your life.
Here are some tips for how to start a calming meditative routine and the benefits such a routine can have on your overall wellbeing…
Developing a meditative routine:
- Start by committing to meditating 3x a week for ten to twenty minutes
- Find a quiet area in your home to sit; somewhere that makes you feel calm and peaceful
- Designate a set time in your schedule to be in quietness alone (E.g. First thing in the morning before the kids wake up, when baby goes down for a nap, just before getting into bed at night)
- Sit on the floor with a throw pillow underneath you (optional: add a comfy blanket over your lap); cross your legs with your palms facing up and your index finger + thumb touching
- Take 3 consecutive deep breaths, inhaling through the nose for 3 seconds, exhaling slowly through the mouth for 6 seconds
- To calm your thoughts, I recommend repeating a positive word to yourself as you inhale followed by a negative word as you exhale. The positive word should be something you wish to manifest more of and the negative word should be a feeling you wish to let go of (E.g. Inhale love, calm, patience, compassion, peace, or kindness and exhale perfection, fear, anxiety, scarcity, judgement, or expectation). This really helps to focus your energy away from inevitable random invasive thoughts.
- Another useful tip is to find a guided meditation on YouTube that resonates with you. The Mindful Movement is an excellent resource and has a great guided meditation for manifestation (20 minutes). Bridget Teyler, a doula in the San Francisco area, has some amazing meditations for expectant mamas that are short yet powerful – this one is a favourite: Connecting to my baby in my womb (6 minutes).
Benefits to meditating regularly:
- Slows down and calms the over-active nervous system
- Reduces anxiety and stress in the body
- Allows you to connect more with your body (we spend way too much time in our thinking mind)
- Brings clarity to what you want in life
- Improves your mood
- Improves sleep
- Increases self-awareness and compassion
- Accessible, affordable / free therapy
The main takeaway: mindful meditation can have many health benefits for the mind, body and spirit, but consistency is key. It doesn’t have to be an intimidating practice; you just need to make it work for you and your lifestyle.