Article Table of Contents
- 1 What is Meditation?
- 2 Using Meditation to Ease Stress and Calm Anxiety
- 3 Common Meditation Struggles
- 4 How Meditation Improves Your Relationships
- 5 Make Meditation Work for You
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice of reaching a heightened level of awareness. If you would like to get started with meditation, I’m giving you a free printable workbook so you can learn how to focus and quiet your mind! However, keep reading for the moment… meditation allows you to tune into your thoughts without being consumed by them.
This makes it easier to focus on what truly matters and gives you space to quiet your mind. (Meditation can help people with mental health issues too, such as anxiety, stress, ADHD, anger issues etc.)
You may think of meditation and believe it has a religious or spiritual meaning, but that’s not always true. Many people, including agnostics, find meditation to be beneficial and use it when they need serenity.
There are several different types of meditation but here are a few of the most popular forms:
Guided meditation is a form of meditation where a mentor or teacher encourages someone to visualize a certain outcome. For example, a basketball coach may have his players do a guided meditation where his players imagine winning the game.
Guided meditation can allow you to regain a sense of control in the face of setbacks. During an interview with Forbes, Michael Phelps shared that his goggles filled with water during the Olympic race. Other swimmers may have panicked. However, Michael didn’t as he had spent hours visualizing a successful outcome, so he closed his eyes and started swimming and completed the race, having won the gold medal and breaking the world record!
Mantra as Meditation
Some people find it helpful to spend their meditation sessions focusing on a mantra. The mantra can be any one that you choose. But it’s often helpful to create a mantra about an area of your life that you’re actively seeking to improve.
If you’re looking to lose weight, your mantra could be, “I choose to fill my body with nutritious foods.” If you’re looking to earn more money, your mantra could be, “I am worthy of wealth and spend my money wisely.”
During meditation, say the mantra to yourself out loud. If you find your mind drifting or you’re worrying about something, relax and keep repeating your mantra. It will get easier after a few sessions to stay on track.
Mindfulness as Meditation
Another form of meditation is mindfulness. It’s focused on staying in the moment without fear or judgement. Rather, you become an observer of your inner self.
As part of your mindfulness, you can sit or lie comfortably and listen to your thoughts. The key is not to react to what you’re thinking. For example, you think about cookies in the kitchen but then remember you’re supposed to be on a diet. You instantly feel guilt and shame.
In mindfulness, you could say, “I release this guilt and shame and open myself to joy and peace.” The more you practice mindfulness, the more you’ll become aware of how your thoughts are shaping your life.
There are many styles of meditation. Don’t feel bad if you try one method and don’t enjoy it. You may have to try a few different ones until you find the style that works best for you.
Journal Your Thoughts
- Have you tried meditation? If not, what’s holding you back from starting?
- What areas of your life would you like to improve through meditation?
- What forms of meditation appeal to you the most?
Using Meditation to Ease Stress and Calm Anxiety
Recognizing Your Inner Voice
Everyone has an inner voice. It’s the narrator that plays in your head from the moment you wake up until you go back to bed. Sometimes, the inner narrator is kind and loving, helping you to see yourself in the best light.
However, most people struggle with their inner voice. They regularly think things like,
- I’m not good enough at my job.
- Everyone’s going to find out I’m a fraud.
- I have no self-control and that’s why I can’t lose weight/get a better job/have the life I want.
Sometimes, your inner voice can be helpful. For example when you hurt someone else’s feelings with a sharp reply, you may feel instant guilt. You find yourself thinking,
- I should apologize.
- So you do offer an apology and try to carry on with the rest of the day.
Dealing with Your Inner Voice
The problem comes when you lose the ability to shut off your inner voice and seriously question what you are telling yourself. When that happens, you may turn to avoidance techniques and try to medicate yourself through overeating, recreational drug use, excessive drinking and other destructive behaviors.
However, these are bandage solutions. They don’t really solve the problem, but they do make you temporarily feel better…until they don’t. This is where meditation can help to quiet your inner voice and ease built up stress and anxiety.
Journal Your Thoughts
- Have you or has someone you loved ever had a panic attack? What was the experience like?
- What are some things you hear your inner narrator say to you a lot?
- Looking at your list, is there any truth to what the narrator is saying? What would your life be like if you changed the narrative?
Common Meditation Struggles
For most people, meditation doesn’t come naturally—at least, not at first. This can be frustrating and make you wonder if you’re doing something wrong. You may even be tempted to quit meditating before you experience any benefits. But before you do that, look at these three common meditation struggles and see if the solutions below work for you.
Struggle #1: Expecting to Feel Good or Different
Perhaps you’ve tried several forms of meditation. You’ve looked up meditative chants and tried to connect with your inner self, but you’ve yet to feel good or different. You feel like the same old you and you’re wondering why.
Imagine you had one hundred pounds to lose and you were serious about taking the weight off. You’d probably join a gym and spend months working out. You show up several times a week to run on the treadmill or lift weights. But after a while, you notice that not every gym session feels amazing. Once the initial excitement wore off, it just felt downright hard.
It’s the same concept with meditation. Sure, you have amazing sessions that make you feel like you’re making massive progress. But most sessions aren’t going to feel that way. Most will be challenging. The key is to remind yourself that even though it’s hard, meditation is important for your well-being.
Struggle #2: Hating the Sound of Silence
When you live a busy, hectic lifestyle you’re surrounded by constant noise even if you don’t realize it. Your laptop hums, the lights buzz, and car horns out your window beep. Your co-worker is having a phone conversation, the radio is playing, and your phone is chirping.
It’s no wonder silence can feel awkward and uncomfortable. If you’re just getting started with meditation and you find the silence too much, try adding white noise. You can listen to white noise through a website like Simply Noise. There are also white noise generators apps that you can purchase and use on your smart device.
If you don’t enjoy white noise, you could also use a resource like YouTube. Visit the website on your smart device or laptop and look for meditation music. There are millions of videos featuring relaxing soundtracks that will allow you to slip into a meditational space.
Struggle #3: Getting Restless During Sessions
You can sit comfortably at your TV or computer for hours on end and never budge. But the moment you get quiet and settle down for meditation, you suddenly feel like you can’t sit still.
Don’t feel bad if this happens to you. Your body is just struggling with the transition from movement to stillness. If you were driving your car at 65 miles per hour and you suddenly turned onto a road where the speed limit was only 15 miles per hour, you’d feel tense at first, almost like you were driving in slow motion.
It’s a similar feeling when you meditate. You’ve been stuck in fast forward since you woke up and slowing down doesn’t feel natural. So, be patient with yourself if you get restless during meditation. Your body is simply adjusting to a different speed.
Don’t look at meditation as something to be achieved, see it as a journey you’re taking. Your goal is to enjoy the process and learn from it.
Journal Your Thoughts
- When it comes to meditation, what do you struggle with?
- What do you wish you’d known about meditation when you’d first started?
- Do you feel restless when you try to meditate? Where in your body does this feeling come from?
How Meditation Improves Your Relationships
When it comes to meditation, some people are quick to point out its health benefits like lowered blood pressure and decreased anxiety. But meditation doesn’t just affect your physical health. It can also affect the health of your relationships. Here are just a few of the relationship benefits you’ll get if you regularly practice meditation:
The Ability to Listen
Meditation teaches you how to be present in the moment. It gives you the chance to check in with your mind and body. But more importantly, it shows you how to listen. This can come in handy when it comes to defusing arguments with your partner and loved ones.
You and your partner frequently argue over who should unload the dishes from the dishwasher. One morning, your spouse is particularly mad that dishes are still in the appliance. Normally, when your spouse gets angry at you over this, your go-to response is defensive.
But if you’ve been meditating, then you know to slow down and tune into your partner. You notice the bags under her eyes and say, “Hey, babe. I’ll handle the unloading today. You look tired. Is there something else I could take off your plate?”
The Ability to Step Back
Sometimes, loved ones disappoint us. On those days, it’s easy to start focusing on everything you do and everything your loved one doesn’t do.
You might fume to a co-worker, “I chauffer the kids every evening so he can have time to de-stress after work. But he complains when I ask him to do something simple like pack the children’s lunch bags.”
Meditating helps you remember that the universe is vast and these problems are small in the scheme of things. It doesn’t mean you’re not irritated. It just means you don’t let that irritation develop into a huge fight next time you see your spouse.
The Ability to Show Compassion
Your friend who routinely quits her jobs is whining about money problems again. You love your friend but she always creates her own problems then asks you for a solution.
Meditating allows you to feel compassion for her without getting sucked into her drama. You emphasize with her lack of money by saying, “It stinks when finances are tight. But things will get better if you hang in there.”
Then you change the subject of the conversation. Your friend feels like she was heard and you avoided the usual theatrics. That’s a win-win.
Meditation is a good practice that can benefit your life in many ways. But like all practices, you get out of what you’re willing to put into it. That means you have to make meditation a priority and do it regularly in order to reap all the good benefits for your relationships.
Journal Your Thoughts
- How has meditation helped you manage your relationships?
- What do you and a loved one normally fight over? Is there a way you could defuse this tension?
- What do you want to do differently in your relationships?
Make Meditation Work for You
You’ve tried getting into meditation before but you didn’t stick with it. Maybe you didn’t enjoy the process. Maybe you had a teacher that was fixated on making sure you were doing it right. Maybe you found it was too hard to control your thoughts.
Whatever the reason, you gave up. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up meditation again. Instead of approaching it as another item on your to-do list, look at it as a form of self-care. The trick is to make meditation work for you and not against you. Here are some tips to get you started meditating again.
Experiment with Different Times of Day
Some people swear by morning meditation. They get up earlier than anyone else in their household and spend twenty or thirty minutes meditating. It’s what works for them.
But that doesn’t mean you have to meditate in the morning. You might find that you prefer to meditate in the early afternoon when you can enjoy the sunshine that comes through your window. Or maybe you find meditating before bed a simple and relaxing way to drop off to sleep.
It doesn’t matter what time of day that you meditate. There is no right or wrong time. There’s only the present and how you choose to enjoy it.
Give Yourself Something Visual
Some people complain that when they try to meditate, they can’t concentrate. There are still dozens of thoughts they can’t seem to release and they feel restless, too. If that describes you, don’t fret.
You may need to have something visual to look at during your meditation sessions. You might try focusing your attention on a flickering candle or mediating while you stare at your vision board. If you can’t burn a candle physically, go to a site like YouTube and search for burning candle for meditation. Several videos will appear that you can choose from.
Pick a Safe Space
When it comes to meditating, it’s important to choose to do so in a spot where you feel safe. If you have an emotionally volatile spouse who explodes into rage in the kitchen, you may have trouble meditating in that room of your house.
Some people dealing with trauma find it’s helpful to meditate in small, closed spaces like inside a closet or underneath a desk. This gives them a feeling of safety and allows them to slip into a meditative state.
Don’t give up on meditation right away if you don’t enjoy it. Instead, look at meditation as an experiment and try different styles and techniques until you find what you enjoy.
Journal Your Thoughts
- Have you tried meditating at different times during the day? Which time did you find most enjoyable?
- What do you like to focus on during a meditation session?
- What space do you love meditating in?
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You’ll learn about meditation and how it can help you focus and quiet your mind!
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