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Raise your hand if you meditate on a regular basis. According to a 2018 report by the CDC, 14.2% of adults in the U.S. report meditating at least once in the last year, and some say that number is growing. Some children are even taught meditation practices in school!

What is meditation?

Honestly, one of my biggest hold-ups in the past was my rigid definition of what counted as meditation. I thought meditating was “clearing my mind” and thinking of nothing – an impossible task for a lot of people. While that may work for some, it’s good to know that there are actually so many ways to meditate. If you try something that isn’t working for you, try something else! 

I know some people like to meditate on a specific mantra or phrase, repeating it in their minds, and coming back to it any time their minds wander. Others like to do visual meditation, imagining a scene or picture that elicits a certain feeling or emotion. Some like to focus on a certain area of the body, or run through the entire body, “observing” it and just being present. Others find it helpful to focus on the breath, in and out, in and out.

If none of those sound appealing, don’t hesitate to find another way that suits you better! From what I can tell, it’s mostly about using your mind intentionally – choosing your focus and letting go of what doesn’t fit with your choice. It’s not an easy task with the constant stream of information, entertainment, and distraction we have become accustomed to.

Why meditate?

I was reading a parenting book recently that briefly mentioned how meditation changes the brain. Whoa! I had to look more into that. Sure enough, with current brain imaging technology, we can see those who meditate have different brains than those who don’t! Certain areas in the brains of meditators are larger or denser than corresponding areas in non-meditators, and these areas are responsible for managing the senses, as well as the ability to think, concentrate, and process emotions. Perhaps this is why those who meditate often report a decrease in anxiety, depression, stress levels, PTSD symptoms, an increase in happiness and memory, and a stronger ability to adapt and overcome problems. Some people have even reported a reduction in physical pain and physical health issues in response to regularly meditating. 

It’s amazing how much good it can do for you, and at no cost!

How do I start?

Again, as a non-expert meditator, let me walk you through how I began. And remember, if I can do this, you can, too! I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these ideas from Atomic Habits. Here’s what worked for me:

Remember the why

For me, I think it is important to sit in the present and purposefully use my mind in the way I want it used. For most of the day, thoughts, feelings, and words come and go as they please – often subconscious, but sometimes invited in by me through music, podcasts, phone calls with a friend, etc. Taking the time to make room in my mind for what I consciously want there is important! Additionally, I find God in the moments of stillness, where I leave behind distractions and noise and just be. I want to find God more.

Decide the how

Like I said, there are so many ways to do it. I like imagery and words, so I have found more joy and success when I focus my time on a mantra such as an inspiring phrase, word, quote, or passage of scripture. I also like to imagine light flowing through my body and pushing out any darkness. These things are enticing enough to me to keep my attention, and to draw me back in when I lose my focus. Read up on what others are doing and find something that fits with your style and your why.

Prime the environment

Again, this is something that will be specific to your goals and personality. But overall, you’ll want a place where you can be free from distractions. Don’t invite anything in that will thwart your plans. I have a nice little alcove under the stairs in the basement, just big enough for a small desk and chair. I have a journal and notebook, some pens, and some inspiring books there, and nothing else. No screens. No speakers. It’s a space dedicated to finding stillness and that’s the only thing I do when I’m there.

Make the time and commit

To repeat myself yet again, this will be specific to your situation. There is no best time for meditation. Everyone has different needs. Make an honest evaluation of yours, let go of excuses, and make it happen! 

One tip from Atomic Habits is habit stacking, and that really worked for me. I was already in the habit of getting up early in the morning to study scriptures and journal. When I decided meditating was important to me, it was pretty easy to get up ten minutes earlier so I could spend those extra minutes meditating after my study. 

Also, remember the 2 Minute Rule! Two minutes a day is all you need. Then, if you want, you can add a minute or two every once in a while until you reach your goal. You can do anything for two minutes.

As a side note, I employed these same strategies to help my toddler start. We were already in the habit of exercising together in the morning, so one day I said, “After we exercise, we’re going to meditate!” I showed him some pictures of people meditating and he was excited to try. So far we’re at about 20 seconds of deep breathing. I feel like that’s a win for a two year old! And he holds me to it because it’s now part of the routine.

Enjoy

After getting over the hump of trying to start something new, feeling all the awkwardness, moving past the disappointment of not being perfect at it the first time, etc. you’ll be a real-life meditator! I have seriously loved it. I find the benefits far outweigh the costs, and I look forward to many wonderful years of meditation to come.

Feel free to chime in with any of your own tips, tricks, or experiences meditating. I would love to hear it!

About the author

Hey! My name is Brittan and I live in Utah with my husband and one adorable toddler. I love finding holistic and natural ways to care for myself and my family. I particularly enjoy learning about nutrition, herbal medicine, the emotional, spiritual, and energetic aspects of health, and anything else that contributes to complete wellness. Thanks for joining me!

I am not a doctor. Everything I write about is from my personal experience and perspective. Consult a physician if you have questions specific to your health.

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