Guest blog post written by yogi & mermaid, Hailey Chapman
It’s no secret that meditation can help boost your health, happiness, and more. There’s no right way to do it, and sometimes it can be intimidating. Here are some easy ways to incorporate meditative practices into your day to reap all the benefits!
I absolutely love yoga and meditation, and just about anything that makes me feel zen. One of my goals at the moment is to meditate for five minutes a day. I’m not amazing at it, and some days I forget, but the days I have even my poorest attempts are almost always better than the days I don’t even try. I recently took a meditation and breathing class at my favorite local studio, Water Dog Floating Yoga, as a part of their (currently ongoing) beginners’ series, and I have a few new tips that have been helping me in my practice.
First, there are several ways to meditate. Almost any activity that requires focus can be meditative. The methods covered in class were meditation through breathing, movement, mantras, visualization, and counting. But you can color, go for a walk, listen to some music, or journal. Anything that allows you to focus, relax, and be calm.
My favorite way to squeeze in an easy meditation is to practice some Ujjayi breathing throughout the day. It sounds fancy, but is really simple. Just take a deep breath in through your nose, and then exhale just as deep. The trick is to constrict your throat a bit – breathe like you’re fogging up a mirror, but with your mouth closed. You should hear it in your throat, but everyone’s “volume” will be a little different. The reason I love Ujjayi breathing when I’m on-the-go is because you can be doing almost anything. You’ll always have to breathe, so why not Ujjayi every now and again? It can help you focus, ease tension, and even reduce headaches or sinus pain.
Another easy way to incorporate meditation into your daily life, especially if you’re not great at sitting still, is to meditate through movement. My favorite way of doing this is to work sun salutations into my morning routine. I’m not an instructor, so I won’t try to coach you in it right now, but there are tons of resources online if you’ve never heard of a sun salutation and want to try it!
Your movement doesn’t have to be yoga for it to be meditative. You can go for a walk or run, go to a workout class, or just do whatever it is you do to keep active.
If you’re good with sitting still, cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed for a bit, but just have trouble focusing, then counting, mantras, or visualization might be the tricks to use. Counting is exactly what it sounds like – count as you breathe. Count how long you inhale for, then count to make sure your exhale is the same length.
Mantras are a super fun way to focus your meditation, because you can turn anything into your mantra. In class, we used “be here now” as our mantra to focus on being present. Your mantra can be short or long. Anything from “I am relaxed” to “I welcome abundance into my life” and “I am surrounded by happy people who love me” and more. One I’ve been whispering to myself between classes is, “All I need to know, I learn with ease.” Just find a nice quiet place to sit, relax, and say your mantra.
Visualization can be absolutely amazing. Close your eyes, and imagine you’re on a beach. Imagine what the ocean looks like. What birds are flying around. What shells are revealed when the tide goes out. Imagine what it sounds like. The waves crashing, birds singing, maybe children and families laughing and playing in the distance. Imagine the smell of the salt water, maybe even the taste. Imagine the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sensations of sand and water. If you concentrate hard enough, you can immerse yourself in the experience from wherever you’re sitting. And you can pick anything! Pick your favorite daydream, and immerse yourself in it for a little bit. Maybe write it out, if that’s how you focus better.
My absolute favorite way to meditate is to get some scented candles going (my favorite right now is one that I made with creme brulee cardamom tea, it smells heavenly) and to put on a generic meditation music playlist on Spotify. I choose an intention (same way you’d choose a mantra), and I close my eyes, and I focus on breathing. If my mind starts to wander, I remind myself of my intention, and bring myself back to my breathing. If I’m feeling like I need a little extra help, my Fitbit has a “Calm” activity that examines my breathing for a minute and then vibrates to tell me to inhale and exhale for five minutes. It’s a perfect guided breathing to help me focus, since I often find that the narration in guided meditations is distracting to me. That doesn’t make them bad, they just aren’t my jam.
I hope this has inspired you to explore different meditative activities in your daily life, or maybe just to close your eyes for a minute and breathe.
If you liked this blog post, be sure to check out Hailey’s page and also find her on Instagram, Facebook and more!