Meditation is key to my sanity.
That might sound dramatic but its the truth. And I’ve written about how it’s benefited me a couple of times in the past. I’ve been practicing mindfulness since 2012 as a means of managing my anxiety and depression. But it has only been in the past two years that I’ve really learned how to make use of meditation tools and techniques.
When most people think of meditation they conjure images of stillness, sitting, silence, isolation, a Tibetan monk-like mindful practice. Which is great and lots of people enjoy that style of mediation but let’s be real, not many mothers have the lifestyle for that kind of “om-ing around”.
But first, what is meditation?
Meditation at its core is bare attention. It requires that the person be psychologically present and aware without judgement.
The ultimate challenge?
Overcoming the chitter-chatter of ones own brain, of course.
For a lot of people, the frustration of not being able to overcome the chitter-chatter nullifies the stress reducing qualities. This frustration causes a lot of people to give up on the practice before giving it a fair shot. Which I totally get! I remember thinking when mindfulness was first suggested to me, that if I was capable of quieting my thoughts enough to meditate then why would I need to meditate at all? It felt like an impossible ask.
What does science say?
Lots of research in the past several years that hugely supports the health benefits of meditation. Study after study after study, highlights not only the stress reducing benefits of the practice but also the benefits of memory, mental processing, and creativity, while reducing risk of stroke and heart attack.
Okay, great. But what if it just doesn’t come naturally?
So, in the past two years I’ve been trying tons of different mindfulness techniques. Not because I’m awesome at meditation but because I suck at it. And while two years later it’s by no means easier, the overwhelming benefits are such that I will never stop practicing. Personally, I am a much more self-aware person, I have way more patience, I’ve experienced weight-loss as a result of one of my techniques, and much more.
So what am I doing?
Now, keep in mind this is what works for me and is my personal experience. It’s by no means the right, best or only means to bring mindfulness to your life.
Walking Meditation: This practice is my #1 way of bringing mindfulness to my daily life. Over a year ago, I adopted my dog Gigi with the intention of having her be a part of my anxiety management. I knew she would keep me accountable and ensure I was out walking at least once a day.
How it works – When I’m doing a walking meditation I allow myself to focus only on what is going on around me. I listen to the sounds on our streets, watch my dog and the world around me but without judging what I see and hear. I do my best to acknowledge that its there but otherwise not put a lot of thought into it, simply to appreciate the life and world around me for what it is. If I find I have intrusive thoughts, I acknowledge that my mindfulness slipped and I take my attention back to Gigi. This is a practice I do every day, snow, rain or shine, and it has changed my life profoundly.
Meditative Colouring: I started colouring as a means of mindfulness a couple of years ago. I like this meditative practice because I can do it with my kids around. I’ve talked about colouring as a means of increasing patience and that’s the best way to describe the benefits this form of mindfulness has given me.
How it works – Chose a colouring book that is intricate and that inspires you. Take your time picking a book and make sure it speaks to you. You’re going to be colouring in it for a loooonnnggg time so better ensure you’re going to love it. Experiment with different colouring mediums, don’t limit yourself to pencil crayons. I personally prefer to colour with watercolours. When colouring, try to focus only on applying colour to paper. Try not to over think colour choice or style, do what comes naturally. Allow yourself to colour without judgement and treat your colouring book like a journal no one will ever read. This will allow you to be much more free with your colouring. Allow intrusive thoughts to come and go without spending time on them.
Yoga: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I’m a passionate yogi. Yoga was my first true introduction to a form of meditation that worked for me. I use this form of mindfulness to connect my brain with my body, and to delve deeper into myself.
How it works – connect your mind and body by focusing on proper alignment, balance, and breath. Work on connecting your inhales and exhales to posture movements. And improve your balance by focusing on hip alignment in your poses. I find yoga is a great way to practice ignoring intrusive thinking as thoughts not relating to your yoga practice will have you toppling over in seconds.
Guided Mediation: Guided meditations are great for newbies! They tell you where to direct your mind and prepare a journey for you. It is much easier to ignore intrusive thoughts because the guided meditation is consistently bringing your attention back to the practice.
Where to find guided meditations?
- 6 Of The Best 10-Minute Guided Meditations On Youtube
- 9 Best Guided Meditations For Healing
- Guided Meditation For Better Relationships
- Guided Meditation On Gratitude
Tarot or Mindfulness Cards: This is a technique I’m new too, but I’m obsessed! You may be thinking Tarot??? Really??? Isn’t that mystical, voodoo nonsense? Yes and no. Tarot cards are an excellent way to build self-awareness and intuition. By reading your Tarot cards, you allow yourself to bypass your conscious thoughts and dive into your subconscious thoughts, feelings and judgments and approach them from the symbolism of the Tarot.
How it works – reflect on what the art and symbolism of the cards drawn for you could mean for your present time and circumstance. You can choose to reflect on the words associated with each card. Or alternatively, you can choose to focus on the art and interpret the meanings for yourself. Or you can do both! The beauty of Tarot is that the interpretation is 100% up to you. Do you interpret a card as negative or positive? Look inwards and try to find out why. Notice how you feel while reading the cards. Does anything make you feel anxious? Relaxed? Use the cards to guide yourself inward.
Do you have a favourite meditation technique?