We all need a chance to relax in this busy life. It doesn’t matter which kind of meditation you use, but here are a few ideas to get started.
Meditation means something different to each person. Some see it as a means to enlightenment. Others tap into meditation in the form of prayer. Still others simply use it as a tool to relieve stress or help them fall asleep. However you view meditation, it is a very healthy thing to include in your life that can quiet your mind, unlock creativity, and uncover clarity and focus.
The modern world is full of noise, both external and internal. Our senses are constantly bombarded with stimulation of every kind. This seeps into our mental and emotional landscape too as we stress over deadlines, worry about promotions, fret over our children, rage against traffic, and clutter our minds with arguments and responsibilities. This constantly busy mess going on inside and around us isn’t healthy.
Meditation has the power to minimize stress, reduce anxiety, and clear away the clutter in our heads and hearts. This is just the beginning of the health benefits associated with meditation. It has anti-inflammatory effects to lessen pain and help us move more freely. It cuts down the stress hormones that contribute to chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Meditation improves fertility, lowers blood pressure, enhances digestion, boosts the immune system, and helps us reach emotional balance.
As a writer, I use meditation to aid my writing. I don’t just write articles. I write books too. I find meditation helps me transition from one piece of writing to another, from one form of writing to another, and it lets me tap into the deep pool of creativity that many of us keep locked up in our subconscious. It’s nearly impossible to write with a mind that’s bogged down with to-do lists, worries, and stress. I have to let that go if I want to write well. This doesn’t just apply to writing. I think a moment of stress relief will do anyone good, from a stay at home dad to a corporate ladder climbing woman. Here are a few of the forms of meditation I use. These may not be the ones you’re used to hearing about, but that’s okay. Once again, meditation means something different to each of us, and I’m sharing what works for me.
Quick, Dirty Meditation
Most of the time in this busy, modern world you won’t get a chance to get away for a long period of time or even find someplace quiet. Sometimes you just get a moment to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and clear your mind for a few seconds. I know this isn’t much, but it works and can make a huge impact on your well-being and sanity. You may not reach enlightenment or have some life-altering epiphany, but you will let go of hours’ worth of stress in just a few seconds. This meditation also prepares your brain to accept new tasks. This makes for the perfect transition from one piece of writing to another or one spreadsheet to another or one sales pitch or whatever transitions you do for a living. And you don’t even have to leave your desk.
Find a quiet place to sit for 10–20 minutes in silence. Focus on your breathing, your heartbeat, or a single object while you let your mind clear and your body relax. You can let your mind stay clear or let it flow from thought to thought organically without force or guidance. This can be a good destressor after work or at a park during your lunch break. I have a secret that may sound a little strange. I do this in the bathroom at work. I sit on a paper towel, well away from the toilet, close my eyes, and let go of all my problems and deadlines for a few minutes. That means leaving behind your smartphone with its tempting games and internet access. This odd technique works pretty well too, as long as no one rattles the door handle too often.
Any rhythmic exercise can lend itself to meditation, including running, walking, jogging, jump rope, rebounding, jumping jacks, the treadmill, elliptical machines, and many more. Exercise is an amazing way to release stress on its own, but by including meditation, you can take this to another level. The rhythmic pounding of your feet, arms, heart, or machine allows you to focus on the sound and movement as you drown out everything else, clear your mind, and empty your heart. You can focus on one thought and let it roll around in your head, just let your mind wander, or let the focus stay on the rhythm without a thought. I have solved many a problem while doing jumping jacks, jogging, or rebounding. I’m lucky enough to have a rebounder available at work, but you can easily stand up from your cubicle and do some jumping jacks to get the blood flowing and let go of stress. You can also wait until you get home if you are worried about coworkers giving you a hard time.
That commute to and from work doesn’t have to be a time of honking horns, shaken fists, and less than beautiful words. Turn off the music or pop in something soothing and use that time to prepare for your day and then unwind before getting home. You will be more productive and happier, and your family will thank you. Simply be mindful of yourself and your breathing, and let the stress go. Don’t close your eyes or relax too much though. We want you arriving safe and sound.
Drinking a warm cup of tea can be a moment of meditation. Let the liquid roll around your mouth and follow the course it takes with your mind. If you don’t drink tea, you can do this with coffee or warm lemon water. You can also meditate as you eat, being mindful of each bite you take, focusing on the flavors and textures. You will be surprised how much better you feel after a quiet lunch rather than just wolfing something down before heading back to work.
I’m not going to get too deeply into religion, but many religions rely on meditation to draw closer to deity, and prayer really is a form of meditation. I’m a spiritual guy, but even those who aren’t spiritually minded can take advantage of this technique. Kneel or sit and present a problem to god, the universe, or just to yourself. This doesn’t have to be some earth-shattering problem. Often I am just trying to be happier and kinder. I then seek guidance, taking myself through the problem or allowing my mind to hop from solution to solution as I test them out in theory. I sometimes do this out loud, but most of the time it stays in my head. You then pay attention to your feelings. I find that when my mind lands on the correct answer for my situation I feel warmth spread through my chest. You may just feel a moment of clarity. Call it divine providence or just the subconscious pointing out the obvious, either way it helps.
Write yourself a letter, a short story, a journal entry. It helps you work through some of your stress and feel better. Go deep and let the ideas flow.
I use this one often as I build the characters and worlds for my books. This form of meditation requires a good amount of time, privacy, quiet, and someplace comfortable to lie down. You want to be on the edge of asleep, held in the moment just before slumber. It also works just coming out of sleep. This is a vital moment when your subconscious is more active, tapping into some of the more fun neurotransmitters and hormones created by the pineal gland, and it unleashes a flood of creativity and new ideas. I enter this state and let my characters explore their world, find their own voices, and talk amongst themselves. This one doesn’t just apply to writing either. Artists can discover new paintings. Business gurus can unlock hidden ideas. Your subconscious is a powerful and clever thing that draws upon everything you see and hear, much of which you don’t even remember. Let it do its thing and offer solutions to problems you haven’t even realized were there.
If you have a hard time entering this state without falling asleep, try coming at it from the other direction. Take a short nap, 10–20 minutes and set a gentle alarm. When the alarm sounds, shut it off and lie back down, letting your mind drift along with the gentle flow of your breath. Sleep and dreams have their place too, but this lets you control the direction and remember every second of it. I don’t use this one often as the time and place constraints don’t allow me to jump into it daily, but I think doing this too often would interfere with your normal sleep patterns anyway.
Giving or getting a massage can be a form of meditation. Pay attention to the way it feels, the rhythm of it. Let your mind wander along with the flow and enjoy it. You will come out far more relaxed this way even if you were the one giving the massage.
There are plenty of other types of meditation, and I encourage you to look into them. Each one has its own unique benefits and requirements. Check into movement, heart rhythm, vibrational, mindfulness, focused, mantra, transcendental, and guided visualization meditations. Find what works for you and then plug them into your busy schedules where you can. You will notice an uptick in energy and productivity.
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