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Meditation – A Beginner How-To Guide

Meditation – A Beginner How-To Guide

One of the biggest trends out there right now is meditation and mindfulness!

These words get thrown around like confetti, and you may wonder what the big deal is. Perhaps you want to try meditation but don’t know where to start!

“Did I do the laundry?” “Are those papers filled out at work?” “I wonder what he’s doing right

now…”

These thoughts are totally normal and happen to everyone!

A common misconception about meditation is that it must be free of thought and done in silence, in a so-called comfortable seated position.

For many people, the seated position just isn’t comfortable-and I speak from experience! When I

first started meditating my back would throb as I forced myself to sit with proper posture and

attempt to quiet my mind.

I always left my meditation sessions feeling frustrated, like a failure, and nowhere near calmer!

So, what changed? My perspective. As a yoga teacher, meditation and mindfulness coach, I have learned and tried many ways of meditating!

What I have learned is that it is a different process for every single person. You may need to do a workout before being able to meditate as you have a lot of energy moving in your body. You may need to lie down comfortably and have silence, only listening to the sound of your breathing. You may even need to listen to a repetitive mantra and sit in a chair…

The HOW TO of meditation is really HOW TO relax your body, mind and soul-and this all depends on what works best for YOU.

Thoughts are going to come through the mind because humans are designed to think!

A thoughtless mind is not a human mind…therefore, when in meditation, one practices the witnessing of thoughts. This means that you allow the thoughts to come in, witness them, and release them with no attachment.

For instance, “I can’t believe I forgot to bring that container today” could be looked at with nonjudgement, a smile and an invitation to bring the focus back on your breath.

The goal of meditation is to pause the stream of thought and continually bring awareness back to the present moment. Focusing on the breath or a sound can help you come back to the moment of NOW.

There are many other meditation techniques and tricks that you can learn by participating in yoga classes, exercise regiments and even dancing! The mindfulness that you bring to any focused activity is the same mindfulness that you bring to your meditation!

Here’s an exercise you can try today for your own simple 5 minute meditation

Body Scan Meditation

Sit, lie down, stand, curl up, whatever feels best!

Begin to focus on your breath and notice the inhale and exhale flowing through the body. As you focus on your breath, start to notice your feet, beginning with each toe. Then travel up the leg, noticing how that feels, and continuing up through your stomach, back, arms, hands…and finally coming to your chest and head, making sure to relax all your neck and facial muscles as you breathe.

Allowing yourself the space to notice any thoughts that come through and simply watch them continue on, focusing back on your body and the parts that you are bringing awareness to.

Don’t feel bad if you fall asleep…that means you did something right!

 

Making time for you: The value of ‘me time’ and the sanity saver that is girls’ night out

This past weekend my friends and I had a girls’ night. It wasn’t anything wild, just a fancy dinner out on the town, sans kids. Every time we do this (which is never often enough) we promise to make it a regular occurrence – once a month is the goal. Of course, that never comes to fruition.

After each girls’ night, I always feel rejuvenated; and I’m not the only one to notice my improved mood. My husband, kids, and probably even the pup notice as well. My friends say the same thing, and it’s really no surprise why-hanging out with friends, good conversation, a fancy meal that you don’t have to cook or clean up after, and getting to eat while the food is still hot – it’s a dream scenario when you’re a mom.

So, why don’t we make this a priority?

There are a myriad of reasons to not make or keep plans with friends: one of the kid’s is sick, there’s too much to do around the house, the family wants to go on an outing and you don’t know if you’ll be back in time.

Not to mention that it really is hard to get out. One of us may have to stay late at the office, another has a deadline to meet but can’t get it done until the kids are in bed. Some of our husbands do shift work, so coordinating schedules between the group or even just between two or three of us can seem like an insurmountable task.

Then you need to be “in the mood”. I’m exhausted at the end of the week and usually want nothing more than my pajamas, a movie and a glass of wine as my big Friday and Saturday night plans.

There is also the fact that most of us see each other regularly anyway because our kids happen to be friends, we live close by, and are frequently meeting up outside, going for brunch or having play-dates.

The difference is, that kind of socializing isn’t about us – or at least not just about us. In these scenarios we’re wrangling kids, playing referee or constantly being interrupted. It is not relaxing. No conversation is ever completed. And if you’re the one hosting, you can pretty much expect to be cleaning up and re-organizing all the toys for the rest of the week.

We are better people, mothers, wives, workers and friends when we nurture our own needs. This includes taking care of both our physical and mental well-being. Go for that run, get a pedicure, or indulge in a luxurious bubble bath and truly take time for you. Schedule “me time” into your calendar. By making this a priority, will increase your happiness and decrease your stress and give you a needed boost of energy to take on the challenges and demands of motherhood.

Moms – and women in general – have the tendency to put others before themselves. We will arrange play dates, play taxi driver to and from activities, help with homework, cook multiple meals to meet everyone’s tastes, but we won’t stop to carve out time for ourselves. That is a big problem.

This is why girls’ night is different. It is about us. We can talk, confide, commiserate, joke, and brag all we want. We get dressed up, we feel good, and the effects are long-lasting. If you’re a mom who hasn’t made her own friendships a priority, you surely know what I’m talking about.

Let’s try to do better; foster our own friendships, make socializing a part of our routine. As a mom, you need to have a social life outside of your kids’ activities, and one that doesn’t always involve the whole family. I know it clears my head and leaves me feeling refreshed, confident and ready to take on any challenge that lays ahead.