You hear the word meditation. What do you think? Some may think it sounds mystical and mysterious (like I used to), some might think of a long haired hippie sitting in the grass somewhere who hasn't showered for three days, and some might not think much of it at all. When it boils down to it, each perception has some truth to it, but meditation is so much more than that.
I've personally always thought of meditation as a magical practice that seems almost impossible to master. I go to yoga and have tried small bouts of it when my instructor started to get fairy-like with her voice, trying to take you somewhere mentally. For the most part however, during these practices my mind was drifting off to what kind of pizza I would order later for supper. Meditation wasn't a huge interest of mine until I started hearing about friends who were practicing it through the guidance of specialized apps they downloaded onto their phones. I figured the mysterious practice was MAYBE worth a shot. The after effects sounded brilliant, and I already make time every morning to go read at a local park. So, I downloaded the Calm app onto my phone, equipped with a free 7 day trial session. The next morning I grabbed a blanket and some coffee and planted myself right next to a large oak by the lake at my normal spot, and started the first day session.
I didn't know what to expect, but I followed the soothing voice coming out of my phone and closed my eyelids tightly. Sitting cross legged, I rested my hands on my knees and straightened my back. As the soothing voice progressed, I was instructed to relax my shoulders, my back, and all other tensed areas of my body. To ignore all outside senses was the goal, and only focus on the natural breathing taking place. As the voice was temporarily replaced by a calming silence filled with the sound of crickets, I began a mantra. "Breath in, breath out." I visualized my stomach expanding and deflating with each breath I took, and tried only to focus on this. I have to say, it was difficult. The constant chatter of my mind distracted me with each sound I heard and worry I had for the day.
I also have to say, it was worth it in ways I had not imagined. When the short 10 minute session was over and I opened my eyes again, the world was fresh and had a calm feel to it that I had not felt previously. Relaxed and at ease, I felt as though I had just woken from a happy, beautiful dream and restful sleep. This happy, relaxed emotion stayed with me throughout the day, and even got me through statistics (bleh!). To say I was pleasantly surprised is to say the least.
Since that day, I have continued to grab a blanket and iced coffee every morning to trek to my little spot underneath the tree by the lake. It is here where I turn on my Calm app (try it!) and start my meditation session that will help me maintain a positive and relaxed attitude throughout the day. Each day I continue to improve my focus, which then improves my concentration. I also feel as though I worry less and feel happy more, because I practice living in the present moment where getting overwhelmed about the past and future is not an option.
So, in short, you don't have to be a master Yogi or dirty hippie to gain the benefits from practicing meditation. You don't have to practice for hours on end each day. All it takes is a short 10 minutes out of your day to really realize how much of a difference practicing mindfulness can have. Do you have 10 minutes to try it today? Download the Calm app, an app of your choice, or simply just sit and breath on your own and start to notice a world of a difference in your wellbeing. Its worth a shot, right?