Meditation has been proven to reduce stress. Not only that, but it is also a relaxing and effective way to boost your health, improve your mood, and feel more connected to those around you. These outcomes happen because when you meditate, you are learning to raise the Alpha in your brain. Alpha is the medium speed that is used to calm your brain down, help it recover from stress, and reach a more relaxed and focused state. There are no downsides to meditation. But it can be difficult to figure out how to get started and how to be successful.
I have heard all the common excuses that might be preventing you from meditating. I have listed a few of the most popular ones below. However, in fact, these are just myths. Anyone can meditate if they intend to.
Popular Myths of Why You Can’t Meditate
People Like Me Don’t Meditate. Well, I already told you above, anyone can meditate. In fact, many top executives, business leaders, and peak athletic performers meditate. This helps them to keep their minds clear, improve productivity, and be better leaders for their teams.
I Don’t Have the Time to Meditate. In just 5 to 10 minutes a day, you can successfully meditate enough to help reduce stress. Let me tell you why. As you use your brain across the day you are increasing the use of High Beta, overdrive, stress mode. When you take a short break to meditate, you bring the High Beta down. This effectively brings your brain, not calm-focused mode. It also makes it so you can stay clear and fresh. It is not how long you meditate that brings success, it is how often. Meditating for short time frames each day can be a brain changer for you. Keep up the daily habit so your brain can reap the benefits of meditation.
I Can’t Stop Thinking. News flash, most people can’t stop thinking. The more you have a constant stream of thoughts, the more you likely need meditation. Anyway, meditation isn’t about not thinking. Instead, it can help you become more aware of your thoughts, and better regulate them over time.
A Trick to Successfully Think Less During Meditation
Here is a trick I use when meditating. Think of your thoughts like a ticker board in your mind. They are coming from the right and ticking across to the left. Just watch them. Don’t grab any off of the ticker board. If you grab a thought, put it back in once you realize you are thinking about it. As you watch your thoughts on the ticker board, they will slow down. The slowing down means you are being successful. Your brain is using less High Beta and generating more Alpha. Congratulations!
You can learn to meditate successfully if you’d like to. It is important to move beyond the idea that you can’t meditate. Everyone has the time and ability to benefit from meditation. You just have to choose it.
Stay tuned because below I will share with you the one piece of technology that can guarantee your success in meditation. It is awesome.
However, it can also be helpful to have some guidance. Here are 12 tips to help you start meditating and keep your practice going.
- Start Your Meditation Practice-Without Major Expectations
Meditation is not an instant, quick-fix solution to all of life’s problems. But, over time it can be a difference-maker in your overall demeanor, relationships, and accomplishments. I know, that sounds like a tall order, but it is true. The benefits of meditation have been studied for generations with proof that it works.
I started boxing for about 9 months ago. At first, I sucked. Really sucked. I was timid in hitting the punching bag and was sloppy all over. Fast forward to now. No, I am not going to win any boxing championships, but I am controlled, confident, and excited to learn new moves every day. Just like any skill, meditation will take time to master. However, you don’t need to get great right away. Just go for a small win. Each little win will build on the next until you are confident in your meditation practice.
- Choose the Best Brain Time to Meditate, and Then Stick to It
Schedule your meditation time when you feel the calmest and most focused. This way you can achieve a small win as early in the game as possible. Coupling meditation with a daily relaxation habit you already have in place can help you be even more successful. Like taking a mid-morning coffee break and meditating while your cup of joe brews. This way it is easier to establish the practice as a habit because you were successful. Also, you’ll be more likely to do it each day because it will feel good.
What is the “Best” Time to Meditate?
Well, this is different for everybody, but there is a rule thumb to follow. Don’t try to meditate when you are tired or when you are rushed.
If you are tired and try to meditate, your brain will be using too much Theta, sleepy mode. You might fall asleep or fight to stay awake. If you are stressed or busy, your brain will be using large amounts of High Beta. In this case, your brain’s starting point would be very far away from the desired state of calm, focus. It will take you much longer, and a lot more effort, to get all the fast, high energy down to feel remotely calm.
- Create a Designated Space to Meditate
Choose a quiet room or a space to meditate. This can help train your body and mind to quickly relax and become more comfortable. In turn, it will allow your brain to easily transition into meditation. Make sure your five kids, two dogs, and husband can’t find you, so you can be successful. I have a meditation cushion and a comfy chair in my space so that I can just go to my space and I am ready to go. I make sure my family is fed, happy, and busy so that nobody is looking for me or can interrupt me.
Create a meditation space that soothes your soul. De-clutter the area and keep it clean just for you. Meditation can feel special and important when you regard it with esteem. Thus, it becomes an opportunity to create a space that nourishes a more relaxed state of mind. Add plants, low-lighting, or find a cool spot by a window for added aesthetic. Keep it a phone-free zone in your home to bring you lasting peace when you go there. It may require hiding on your part. 😉
- Start with a Box Breathing to Calm the Body & Mind
Box breathing is a technique that is used to calm the nervous system and oxygenate the brain simultaneously. Take a deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, and then hold it again. Like a box. Deep breaths before you begin your meditation can trigger a relaxation response. This essentially is the opposite of the fight or flight response your brain has when it is stressed. During the fight or flight response, the brain is triggered to get ready for danger. Stimulating the relaxation response through box breathing allows your body to feel safe and at ease. Set yourself up for meditation success with this easy and relaxing pre-game technique.
As you start your meditation, your breathing should return to a normal rate. Pay attention to your breath throughout the meditation to gain momentum. When I am struggling to meditate I literally say to myself, “Innnnnn” while I breathe in, “Ouuuttttt” while I breathe out. This practice gives my mind something to think about instead of my day. It helps to calm my brain and lower stress and thinking during meditation.
- Relax and Still your Body During Meditation
Feeling restless is common at first. Teaching your body to become comfortable with stillness can help your mind become more still. In turn, with a still mind and body, your brain will generate more Alpha calm mode to keep the benefits coming when you are done meditating. and want to change positions throughout your meditation. Try not to let your position become a distraction in and of itself. If you need to readjust your seating from time to time, go ahead. But stillness can help you no longer even think about your body. Ease in and out of being still as you go into and come out of your meditation time.
- Be kind to yourself — some days will be easier than others
At its root, meditation is about learning how to treat yourself with kindness no matter what you may be experiencing at any given moment.
Just like exercising, some days will feel easier than others. This could be due to the amount of sleep you had the night before, or the amount of stress you were under that week. Remember that it’s a meditation practice — it’s not always going to be perfect.
- Come back the next day, even if you don’t feel like it
The power of meditation comes in creating a routine and making it a daily practice.
In fact, a 2018 study found that meditating for 15 minutes every day promoted positive well being and reduced stress levels. The study concluded that daily meditation had a similar effect on the body to take a vacation.
So, even though meditation may not feel like a vacation when you have to do it every day, remember that keeping up a routine is key to feeling these effects.
- Try Neuro-Meditation for Added Success
If it is difficult for you to stick to a daily meditation practice on your own, you may want help in being successful. Use the Muse Calm Brain Sensing Headband can give you that added push to keep going every day. There are guided-meditations to help you along and the best part is that the headband produces graphs of your brain’s performance during your meditation sessions. This way you know if you have been successful while meditating, or just spinning your wheels. If in fact, you have been spinning your wheels, that is OK. It just means there is more work to be done to keep moving forward.
If you want even more help, I can monitor your neuro-meditation sessions using an on-line platform. We can work together in a monthly coaching call to create even greater success in your meditation practice. Visit the Personal Neuro Training page HERE for more information. It is a great way to start a meditation practice. Also, many people that I work with through my private practice at Leigh Brain & Spine use my Neuro Training program as a maintenance program after completing their full Neurofeedback Therapy program.