I recently joined a local program that will run for six months with the goal of implementing a strong and routine meditation practice. I have wanted to meditate for years but find it difficult to start, much less maintain, the practice; the accountability of this group is very beneficial to me.
Why meditate? There are many benefits, perhaps most notably a control of emotions and decrease in reactivity. To me, it feels really soothing and relaxing for my poor busy brain….like a massage for my cerebral matter! It also makes me realize how inane and repetitive my thoughts are, and how busy I am planning instead of being in the moment (I tend to do a lot of meal planning while I’m supposed to be meditating!)
One action item that is proving to be very helpful in my practice is utilizing a meditation journal. This is a tool my group leader introduced and it’s such a good idea! I’m looking forward to tracking my progress and noting patterns as they arise, and again, the accountability factor is helping me be successful. Here are a few formats you could use:
In terms of the actual meditation, you may remember a previous blog in which I recommended the Calm app which I have on my iPhone; Headspace is another very popular app. There are guided and silent options. But really all you need is a timer. I sit for 10 to 15 minutes presently and count my breaths from 1 to 10. You can also use a mantra if you prefer…a word or phase that centers you with each breath. When your thoughts inevitably wander, just observe without judgment and bring yourself back to your breath.
Metta meditation is the practice of loving kindness and can increase compassion. It feels really lovely to practice. In this meditation, you think “may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I be at peace”. Then you repeat these phrases “may you….” while thinking of one of your dearest loved ones, then repeat with someone “neutral”, repeat with someone you find challenging in mind, and finally extend the wishes to all of the world.
If you, like me, have been wanting to meditate but struggle to get started, try keeping a journal from one of the templates I provided above. Maybe enlist a partner, friend, or group for accountability and a sense of connectedness. I am happy to be that person for you, just reach out to me! Now and always, may YOU be happy, may you be healthy, may you be safe, and may you be at peace.