What’s the deal with meditation?
Meditation – the new buzzword. We hear it so often lately, but what does it mean exactly? And why is it so popular these days?
Well, the Beatles could have something to do with it…
Actually, there have been thousands of studies done in recent years on meditation and the brain. This research shows that meditation has an incredible amount of benefits for us physically, mentally and emotionally. Practitioners of meditation are less stressed and anxious, more compassionate, positive, focused, creative, happy and self-aware.
Meditation is simply a practice of focusing on the present moment. There are a million ways to start a meditation practice, and it can be quite overwhelming at first! We suggest that you start with a mindful meditation, the practice of sitting silently and becoming aware of the layers of your experience (sensations, thoughts, emotions) in the present moment with curiosity, openness and non-judgement.
Read on for a guide on how to start a meditation practice.
Let's get started
First, find a quiet spot where you can sit without disruptions. Put your phone on airplane mode and the set a timer for five minutes. And if five minutes seems too long, make it two! Find a comfortable and alert seated position, and close your eyes.
Focus all of your attention on your breath, notice the feeling of your inhalation and your exhalation.
When you notice that your brain starts thinking of other things (which it will… we call this puppy brain!), without judgement, refocus on your breath. Every time you bring your attention back to your breath you are training your brain to appreciate the simplicity of the present moment.
Just like with any new exercise, this will not be easy in the beginning. But with time and practice, you will see that your concentration on the breath will improve and a sense of calm will follow.
You're learning something new, give it time!
Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you begin this practice and think of it as a fun experiment in studying your brain and its habitual thought patterns.
You can’t be good or bad at meditation, it isn’t a competitive sport and you can’t win. If it’s hard to sit still, that’s ok! If your brain just won’t stop thinking, that’s ok too. If your emotions seem to amplify in the silence, that’s fine too. There is no right or wrong experience to have during meditation.
Observe whatever you experience during those couple minutes of quiet time with curiosity and openness. The idea is to get to know yourself better and to shine a light on the connection between the thoughts in your mind and the feelings those thoughts create in your body.
Make it a habit
Just like learning to read, meditation is a skill that develops over time. With practice, you will see that the skills you are learning during your seated meditation will spill over into other parts of your life.
One day you’ll catch yourself being less reactive in stressful situations or being able to keep your cool during high pressure moments. You may feel more compassion towards yourself and others and you will probably begin to appreciate the seemingly small moments of your life more fully and feel more gratitude in your day-to-day.
A great way to form a new habit is to make it an integral part of your daily routine and to always practice at the same time and in the same place. After a couple weeks, you won’t even have to think about it, you will just naturally go through the steps of sitting in your meditation spot and setting your timer.
We like to practice in the morning right after we brush our teeth. Now meditation is just part of our routine, wake up, brush teeth, meditate, get dressed, eat breakfast. Not meditating feels just as strange as leaving the house with morning breath!
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness and how you can share this practice with the kids in your life, check out The Balanced Educator Podcast.
About the writers
When finding a balance between their teaching careers and their personal lives became challenging, Kailey and Josianne found mindfulness. They discovered calm and joy from this practice and naturally began teaching mindfulness in their classrooms. The amazing transformation they saw in themselves and in her students led them to co-founding Educalme. They create guided mindfulness practices and curriculum and co-host The Balanced Educator Podcast so that teachers and parents can easily learn and share mindfulness with their kiddos.