Meditation is a great stress reducer. You can meditate for a few minutes or even just thirty seconds. You don't need any tools other than yourself, and you can meditate anywhere!
In times of stress, taking a moment to clear your head, control your anxiety and increase your self-awareness makes a huge difference. During a natural disaster, there can be a lot of uncertainties. One aspect of disaster preparation you can certainly count on before, during and after is stress-reducing mental exercise.
Here are 10 steps to begin the simple practice of meditation. You can take this practice with you anywhere, anytime, no matter where you are.
In order to start the habit of meditation, first ask yourself these simple questions:When are you going to meditate?
Pick a time aligned with an existing habit, like right after you brush your teeth or while the coffee is brewing. Remember, you don't need a lot of time to meditate; just a few minutes can make a great impact.
Where can you meditate undisturbed?
If possible, pick a quiet spot in a garden or park, or perhaps a chair you feel comfortable in. Establishing a routine spot to meditate helps build the habit. It's also possible to meditate in a crowd, like on a bus or train or in a coffee shop. Wherever you find, know you're doing yourself a great service by taking the time to quiet your mind.
How will you remember to meditate?
Establish triggers that will remind you to take a moment for yourself. Perhaps arriving 5 minutes early to pick up your kids from school is a good time to close your eyes. Every time you put on your shoes and socks, you could try sitting for an extra few seconds and concentrate on clearing your head. Attaching new goals to existing habits is a great and easy way to create new routines.
How will you bring yourself out of meditation?
If you choose to set a sounding alarm, choose a gentle tone. If you know you have 5 minutes to meditate, set your alarm for 4:30 minutes, so you have a moment to adjust back into your day.
2. Settle in
Sit comfortably in a chair, on a meditation pillow or on the floor with your hands resting in your lap or on your knees, palms facing upwards. You can also meditate in a public environment on a bench or retaining wall.
Sit up straight. If this is uncomfortable in a public environment, you can lean forward, too. Just try and keep your chest open so you can get a full breath.
Relax your neck and sit with your chin slightly tucked in.
Take a few deep breathes through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow your eyes to close.
Observe your posture and notice any sensations you may be feeling. Acknowledge anything you can smell, hear or taste and any temperature changes.
5. Check your body
Notice any tension or discomfort without trying to change what you find. Scan again. Notice which parts of your body feel relaxed and which spots are holding tension. Try to mentally direct your exhales to those tense spots.
Notice any thoughts that arise. Gently note your mood and then release it and focus now only on your breath.
Enjoy the silence of your mind and the natural sensations in your body. If your mind doesn't want to become still or quiet, that's okay. Allow your thoughts to wander unrestricted. Over time, it may become easier for your mind to become silent, but don't worry if it doesn't. Bringing in silence is a practice, so just practice.
7. Your breath
Don’t make any effort to change your breath. Just observe the rising and falling sensation that your natural breathing creates in your body. An optional suggestion is to begin silently counting your breaths: Count to 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 on the next inhalation, and so on, up to 10. Then start again at 1.
Remember, it's completely normal for thoughts to show up. You don’t need to do anything – just guide your attention back to your breath and continue counting until your timer sounds.
8. Be free
Spend 30 seconds just sitting. Try to focus on feeling calm and focused. Enjoy the opportunity to let your mind simply be.
9. Complete your awareness
Become aware once more of your physical feelings. When you’re ready, slowly wiggle your fingers and toes, bringing the sense of physical awareness back to your body. Open your eyes.
10. Take it with you
Before standing up, form a clear idea about what you’re going to do next. It’s so easy to jump up off the seat and lose the calm and spacious quality you’ve just created. Try to carry this awareness with you to your next activity.
Throughout the day, find moments to remind yourself what it felt like to have that clarity and focused attention. Simply take a couple of deep breaths, notice how you feel, and observe any areas of tension. Again, you can practice mediation no matter where you are. With just a few minutes of calm, clear, intentional being, you can reduce stress and lower anxiety.
So why not try it, right now?