Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Breathe In...Breathe Out

I am an anxious person...I worry more than most people I know...and I get stressed out way too easy.

I need to stop and take a breath.

Ahhhhh....much better.

These thoughts have been running through my head lately as my move across the country quickly approaches, my job ends, and panic begins. So you have no idea what a relief it was to find Meditator-in-Training in the February issue of Body+Soul.

I've tried meditating before... I just could not get into yoga and thought meditating was the best alternative to find my "inner calm." It didn't go well. Only seconds after closing my eyes, the thoughts were a-racin'.

Did I unplug the iron? Did I finish those lesson plans? What should I fix for dinner? I really need to get my sister a birthday gift. Should I have gone to grad school?

This went on and on. And the harder I tried not to think, the more the thoughts forced themselves into my already full brain. I felt like a failure...thought I was too wired to make this I quit.

Thankfully, Joshua Summers, Boston yoga and meditation instructor, says that it is normal and completely okay if your mind wanders. He gives these tips for beginners like me...

Start Slowly.
Start with one minute a day. After a week, add another minute, and keep adding a minute every week.

Be consistent.
You'll have days when you just don't feel like it, but that's precisely the time you should get on the cushion to observe and work with your resistance. Meditating at the same time everyday may also help solidify your practice.

Go easy on yourself.
Let go of the idea that the goal of meditation is to stop thinking. The point isn't not to think; it's to be aware of your thoughts and learn to let them be.

But how can I ease my way into meditation again? The folks over at WikiHow offer these instructions:

-Create a quiet, relaxing environment
-Sit on a chair or cushion

-Close your eyes or find something calming to look at (ex. a candle)

-Take care to sit erect; allowing for free & easy breathing

-Observe your breathing

-Relax every muscle in your body

At this point, you have a couple options: repeat words to yourself that help you focus on what you are trying to accomplish: "relax" "breathe" "no stress" or use a guided meditation to help keep your brain on track. Looking back at my previous experience with meditation, I think guided is the way to go for me. My brain needs a little hand-holding.

Tonight I'm going to give The Meditation Station podcast a chance. I'll let you know how it goes...

Deep breath in, deep breath out... I think I might be able to do it this time!

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