Sitting in silence and focusing on your breath for 10 minutes a day sounds easy -- until you try it. Like working out, meditation is a skill that takes daily practice. Unlike working out, you don’t have to sweat to do it. Instead, all you need to do is find a comfortable spot and just...be. If you’re not the mediation type, don’t count it out: it can keep you focused in the gym, prevent overeating, and help prevent injury.
The better question is: why not? Besides the above, studies have shown that meditation actually changes your brain chemistry: it can help you improve memory, better deal with negative emotions and stress, and might even prevent genetic damage. One study that put cancer survivors on a meditation program showed that meditation caused gene changes that help ward off genetic diseases. And that’s all from simply practicing mindfulness. Not convinced yet? It only takes a couple weeks of short daily practice (we’re talking 10 minutes a day!) for your brain structure to shift, making it a habit with fast results.
Meditation Tips for Beginners
When you're just starting out, your mind will naturally wander -- What should you pick up for dinner tonight? How should you prepare for tomorrow’s presentation? When are you going to fit a workout in? -- so here are some tips that will keep you present. Remember: don’t punish yourself for wandering thoughts. Instead, try the following tips and bring your focus back.
Find Your Spot
Meditation is a ritual, so find the spot dedicated to that ritual. Make it peaceful and comfortable. Don’t make it your bed -- there’s a thin line between meditation in the morning and just being sleepy and comfortable. Instead, dedicate a space in your home that can be made private to you, personalize it, keep it simple, and go there when you want to destress.
Practice in the Morning
Experts say that your morning routine sets the groundwork for the rest of your day. It’s recommended that if you plan on starting a daily meditation practice, you should do your meditating in the morning, before breakfast, and before you start getting busy with anything (that means before you wake up the kids, before you let out the dogs, maybe even before you check your phone to see if you have any emails in the queue). If you’re not a morning person, you can do it on your lunch break -- breaking your normal routine up can boost productivity and creativity.
You’re going to lose focus. Your thoughts will wander. No sweat -- when you realize that your mind is drifting, bring yourself back to the present with a body scan. Start at the top: feel where you’re holding tension and remind yourself to release it in your forehead, jaw, neck, shoulders. Scan the body for places where it could relax, and focus on mentally touching each part of your body to remind yourself where you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Meditation? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are lots of apps. Headspace is a good one for beginners: it has hundreds of themed exercises (like stress, anxiety, sleep, etc.) to get you started depending on your mood. Simply Being, another meditation app, gently reminds you throughout the day to take breaks. Apps are good for beginners because they can help you time your sessions, talk you through starting your relaxation processes, and keep you focused.
Meditation strengthens the mind; working out strengthens the body. If you're ready to practice meditation and fitness simultaneously but aren't sure what regimen you should be on, come in and try a free personal training session today!