So today’s post is a little something different, but it’s something that I’m super excited to share with you guys because it’s focused on a practice that has quite literally been life changing for me (and hopefully for you too!). First of all, let me preface all of this by saying that for a long time, I kind of balked at the thought of sharing my meditation tips. Who am I to talk about meditation? I’m a control freak with serious Type A tendencies. I’m not a “mellow” type in any way shape or form. But then I realized, that’s why I should share how I’ve come to integrate meditation in my daily routine, and why it’s been so useful for me. So many of my friends or loved ones have told me they can’t meditate because it’s too intimidating…well, if anyone should have struggled with meditation, it would be me and I’ve learned to love it and really rely on it as a way of maintaining my sanity. So without further ado, click through to read my 5 tips for meditation for all you beginners out there!
Photos by Alicia
So before we launch into the tips, I thought I’d just share a bit of my story and get a little personal here. First of all, I should share the fact that I’ve always dealt with anxiety problems since I was a kid. I’ve always had this weird dichotomy in me – I am impulsive and spontaneous almost to a fault, but I’m also a real over thinker and my body’s taken the toll for my attempt to try to control every situation I find myself in (and ironically, because I’m spontaneous I often find myself in randomly nerve-wracking situations that I then try to assert some sort of control over). In other words, I would not say being “chill” (do people still say chill?) is one of my strong suits. I started meditating because my naturopath suggested I find ways other than just dietary adjustments to soothe my digestive conditions, which was a big eyeopener for me – all these years, I always blamed any health issues I had on what I ate (which is in part a contributing factor), but really, so much of it was something I could try to work with by simply adjusting my mental state a bit more.
So anyway, I started meditating with a bit of trepidation. Sitting for 10 minutes and trying not to think of anything (my original idea of what meditation was) sounded boring as hell to me. But with some practice and the help of a few useful tools and tricks (detailed below), I soon found myself growing accustomed to meditation. In fact, I started liking it…I would reemerge from my daily 10 minutes feeling in tune with myself in a way that I can only remember feeling when I was travelling and entirely disconnected, or swimming in the ocean, or being in a truly awe-inspiring natural setting, or the beginnings of falling in love (shout out to da boi), etc. I started to get even a bit weirded out by how it started not only making me feel great immediately afterwards, but for the rest of the day. It was only 10 minutes, damn it! But sure enough, the more I did it, the more I felt more content and capable in general.
It almost made me sad that for a few years there, I was so go-go-go that I didn’t stop to take in life a bit more. It’s still a work in progress, but I feel a lot more tuned into myself since I started meditating about 6 months ago, and I feel more tuned in with the world period. It made me realize how important being present is, because really, when I look back on my 28 years so far, the memories that stick are the ones in which I’m truly present. Why wouldn’t you want to be able to create and register more of those moments (that’s a rhetorical question, FYI)? And that, my friends, is why it’s important to meditate. It’s not woo-woo…it’s not hippie bullshit. It’s a practical and real way of making your life more well-lived and happier.
Okay so that was longer than anticipated but like I said, I can’t stress enough how much this has changed things for the better for me, so I guess it’s only natural I would feel the need to write a whole long spiel on meditation’s virtues. Now though, it’s time to get on to the good stuff – 5 beginner tips on getting into the swing of things with meditation today! Read on.
1. Make it a habit.
Same time, same spot. I would suggest doing it in the mornings to set the tone for your day (just wake up 10 minutes earlier if you have to commute to work). Like so much of life, automating it will make it that much easier to commit to.
2. Make it special.
See that Vitruvi Still fragrance oil I’m using above? I use it every time I meditate (even when travelling), not only because I try to make my meditations ritualistic to a certain extent (see #1), but because it makes the experience special. It also has aromatherapeutic properties that help me calm down and tune in, but whatever you decide to incorporate, try to create a little 1-2-3 series to get settled down. For me, it’s turning on my Saje nebulizer (which helps by not only emitting a soothing scent, but creating a gentle bubbling noise in the background), adjusting my sitting bones so that they’re even and applying my Vitruvi oil to my wrists. Then like magic, I’m ready to meditate.
3. Be comfortable.
Don’t meditate in your pencil skirt. Don’t meditate in skintight jeans. Don’t meditate in anything uncomfortable. Yoga pants, pyjamas if you’re doing your meditation first thing in the morning or before bed, etc – just make sure your breathing won’t be compromised by anything binding or restrictive.
4. There’s no right way – do what feels natural to you.
Some days, I meditate cross-legged on the floor, moving my pillow either below my seat or to my lower back (I have back issues so if I had a hard workout the day before, this helps me feel more comfy). Other days, I do it seated comfortably in a chair. And sometimes, I like to do it lying down. For me, I seem to need the variety, but even if you decide to pick one mode and stick with it, do what feels best for you. I would say for most people, probably just sitting in a chair really naturally with a small pillow or some sort of support at your lower back is most natural. There are no “right” ways to do this, so make it personal.
5. Start with an app.
There will be some meditation purists out there who disagree with me, but personally, using Headspace to get started was a major game changer for me. Not only can you apply the general routine Headspace brings you through during its program to your unguided meditations if you’d like (I won’t give away what they do because they’re actually a very generous app and allow a 10-day free trial which you can sign up for here), but if you find the guided route is for you, you can sign up for literally pennies once your free trial’s done. And no, there is no affiliate gain for me here – I just used them to begin my meditation journey and while I now meditate on my own, I have to say that without that push at the beginning (and the added challenge of completing my first 10 days), I wouldn’t have integrated it fully into my daily routine. It’s an app I really believe in and I hope you guys try it out because it really changed everything for me.
And okay, a bonus…as counterintuitive as this might sound, don’t try. The closest concept I can think of is when my friend Carly in journo school told me about a trick she does when she can’t sleep. She told me she would tell herself, “it’s okay, you can just rest then.” And then all of a sudden, she was out like a light. I started applying it to my sleep too – whenever I was stressing out about that important meeting the next day or a flight or whatever else was on my mind, I would just tell myself “well just don’t bother sleeping then, just rest and relax.” And like Carly said, out of nowhere I would be zonked within seconds of thinking that.
Meditation is the same. Just tell yourself it’s okay to think…if you do have thoughts racing through your head, be gentle and let them race through and go. Trying to say no to whatever you’re thinking or then beating yourself up for thinking at all will only start a chain reaction of more thought. Be gentle and be present and you might find your brain is actually relieved to bring itself to a natural state of calm all on its own.
And with that, I’m off to get another version of zen on the Sunshine Coast! Saying my cabin is my happy place would be a major understatement. It’s where I go to reset and relax, where I can find total peace and happiness. I hate glorifying being “busy” but I have been quite busy lately, so I’m happy to just do nada all weekend (i.e. drink our local beer, go swimming, paddle board, etc). Having said that, I’m obviously still addicted to my phone so follow along on Instagram and Snapchat (@tovogueorbust) for live updates from the beautiful coast! Happy weekend lovelies!