If someone new to the concept of meditation found out that sitting still and turning off the mind is just as difficult as an ironman challenge, they’d be incredulous. During meditation, the mind is a tricky muscle that needs one thing (complete rest) but tells us endless things like, “I wonder if the laundry is done” or “What will I do tomorrow?” or “Can I pull off that TikTok dance?”. Our busy lives take place in the physical world and tend to replay and remix themselves in our minds.
Meditation is similar to the isometric movement we discussed in our yoga blog; it requires concentration and contraction. It’s a mental journey that begins with the breath, levels out the mind, and travels throughout the body. But even if you don’t have a meditation routine, you can still reap the benefits of this practice by incorporating the principles in other ways. Here are five tricks to make meditation part of your everyday lifestyle.
Tasks as Mindful Moments
A famous Buddhist named Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a series of communications later transformed into a book called The Miracle of Mindfulness. One of his teachings is to approach menial tasks as moments of potential mindfulness. Take doing the dishes for example; instead of cleaning them because you have to or as an excuse to finish up your most recent podcast, wash the dishes because washing the dishes is a moment in itself. Reimagine boring tasks as moments to be really present. Notice how the water feels, how the soap works. Listen carefully to the sounds that occur as you complete your task. This gives the act validity and trains you to complete things individually rather than multitasking.
Quieting the mind right off the bat is difficult, especially if you’re just starting your meditation practice. If thoughts continue to come up, pulling you out of a still, peaceful state, try repeating a soothing mantra to yourself as you sit. A mantra is just a word, sentence, or phrase that you repeat over and over. There are many mantras that come from the Buddhist practice (feel free to find one that speaks to you), but you can also use something more personal. To feel more rooted in yourself, try “I am that I am.” This palindromic statement creates a safe loop for your mind to concentrate on as you focus on your breath. Consider speaking the mantra out loud. Hearing your voice while simultaneously feeling the vibration of your vocal box can be very soothing.
Acceptance Over Expectation
One of the most harmful approaches to meditation is having expectations for the practice. We’re conditioned to have higher expectations than necessary when it comes to conquering something, so we set ourselves up for immediate disappointment. If those pesky thoughts refuse to diffuse, don’t scold yourself or feel guilty.. Treat that thought like a cloud passing overhead. Acknowledge its presence, accept its subject matter, and watch it move on in your mind. Similar to the memory castle trick, attaching visualizations to metaphysical things like thoughts allows you to grasp the moment and lead it away. The easier you are on yourself, the easier it will be to sit with yourself.
For the busy minds that constantly seek little projects, body scanning may be your meditation go-to. Body scanning is the slow recognition of the physical body. The more aware you are of every inch of your body, the more connected mind and body become. Start at the top of your head or the tips of your toes and slowly visit bones, tendons, joints, muscles, and skin as you move the awareness to the other end. Checking in with your body using slow, heightened cognizance allows you to better diagnose which parts of your body need more attention. Our minds are strong and powerful, so at times it can feel like we’re one big floating head dragging the rest of the body along. Body scanning is a great stress reliever and can be done in moments of intense anxiety or difficult conversation.
Just like you need our X3 trainers, the mind can often use a guiding light. Consider trying guided meditation using helpful apps like Calm (listed in our X3VS!) During a guided meditation, an meditation expert will take you through a body scan using helpful cues and hypnotic bells or indicators. There are tons of voice and guidance options out there, so don’t settle until you find one just right for your needs.
Good luck on your journey to mindfulness!