Today is World Meditation Day and what better way to celebrate than by 1) meditating 2) sharing how I found meditation 3) providing free resources so you can learn to meditate too!
I've been meditating for the past four and a half years. Meditation and breathwork are exercises I practice almost daily. I have ups and down with my meditation practice....times where I'm in the groove with it and other times I'm not as motivated. But I can tell you without a doubt, I'm in the best headspace when I practice these exercises daily.
If you have ever been interested in learning how to meditate or why there is such a buzz around it, then this is the article for you!
Why Learn How to Meditate?
What's the point of meditation? There are a ton of benefits and even research on the physiological effects. However, I'm going to share my personal insights and observations. If you're interested in the science behind meditation, check out this article by Positive Psychology that breaks down the science of meditation in relation to things like sleep, anxiety, pregnancy and just about any other topic you can think of!
My Meditation Journey
I learned about meditation, like so many other people, because I needed an outlet for stress. Prior to meditation, I exercised and journaled as forms of stress relief, and I still use them today. However, they weren't cutting it with all the challenges of college. I needed something that would help me train my mind, which is exactly what meditation and mindfulness activities like breathwork helped me to do.
My quest to learn how to meditate became a priority when I was sitting in one of my co-ed frat meetings.
Side Note: If you didn't know, I was in a co-ed frat for a hot minute back in the day lol It wasn't the typical Greek life with a house we all lived in....pretty far from that! It was a small community, about 60 of us total. It was an incredible group of people! No crazy initiation stuff, but people who genuinely cared about one another.
I enjoyed my time in the co-ed frat, but something felt off and it became personally apparent during an end of semester meeting. In this meeting, we were all sharing the good and bad from the semester, and one member shared how much she had grown as a person since joining the frat. She felt she had developed greater confidence and become a better version of herself, and I was sitting there like *crickets* I'm about the same as I was 4 months ago.
Hearing her testimonial made me think, "what would need to change in my life for me to feel that level of personal development?" My answer to my own question? Learning to meditate. I had been thinking about meditation for a long time, but never dived into it. Now, I was hungry to find fulfillment like the girl in my frat, so I dropped out of the frat and searched for meditation organizations on my college campus.
I found an incredible group called Art of Living or SKY on college campuses. After going on my first meditation retreat and learning how to meditate, I felt like the girl in my co-ed frat! I was amazed by how much I had grown as a person just by establishing a daily meditation practice. The confidence and peace I had learned to create within myself was unbelievable!
Meditation Changed my Life
I don't say that lightly and not about too many things, but meditation truly changed my life. The summer after I learned how to do a daily meditation practice was the summer I traveled solo for the first time. Leading up to the trip, I was terrified to say the least. My journal entries show it too haha but I could always calm myself down and work through the anxiety with meditation. Honestly, I don't know if I would have completed that trip if I didn't have a way to move past the fear of solo travel.
I can also tell you from my own experience, it has greatly strengthened my faith life. Meditation isn't a religion, so anybody with any set of beliefs or none at all can feel more connected to themselves, others and the world. I think that's one of the most beautiful things about meditation - the universal love that it unlocks within ourselves.
Meditation has become my bread and butter of life. It's the way I start each day (at least that's my goal!) What better way to wake up than by tuning into your mind, body and spirit. Starting the day from a place of peace even if life is chaotic (which let's be real, that's life most of the time) helps me react to the challenges of the day more level-headed and calmly. I can tell a difference in myself on the days I meditate first thing vs. the ones I skip.
Learn How to Meditate Daily
Let's chat about setting up a daily meditation practice! If you're new to meditation, start with just 5 minutes or whatever seems doable for you. Gradually build up in time as you get more comfortable. For a complete list of free resources like apps that guide you through meditation, check out my post The Ultimate List of Meditation Resources.
Pick an option that works with you and start there. At the end of the article, I attached a free handout with 5 steps to setting up your home practice. Print the handout and hang it on your bedroom mirror as reminder to stick with your self-care.
If meditation is intimating, start with breathwork. Breathwork is usually thought of as deep breathing, and pranayama is the basis for most deep breathing techniques. This article by the Chopra Center provides a step by step on how to perform 4 deep breathing exercises.
I have done all 4 and find them so useful! I use the alternate nostril breathing before meditation to calm my mind, the ocean breath during yoga or meditation, the energizing breath when I'm struggling to keep my eyelids open, and the belly breath to relax. Try them out and let me know what you think and how you use them!
Creating new habits takes time and patience. I won't lie, meditating daily can be a struggle. A motivating factor that helps get me out of bed is knowing this is my time to exercise my mind. We always talk about moving our bodies for physical health, which is absolutely important, but we rarely talk about the importance of exercising our minds. Meditation is my form of mental exercise and running is my physical exercise.
Another tip, create a space in your home dedicated to your meditation practice. Your body will start to associate the space with "it's time to meditate."
Meditation has improved so many areas of my life, and who would have guessed it all started in one of my frat meetings! Life has a funny way of showing us where to go. If you feel meditation is where your heart is leading you, I hope you find this article to be helpful in learning how to start a meditation practice!
Remember to start with 5 minutes and build gradually. Pick one resource on the meditation resource list and start there, and if meditation seems overwhelming start with breathwork. It'll help ease restless thoughts to help give you the confidence to pursue meditation. If you ever have questions on learning how to meditate or breathwork, drop them below and I'd be happy to answer them. Happy World Meditation Day!