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Simple Guide to Meditation

Last week, we explored some bedtime routines that could aid us in getting better sleep. This week, we’ll take a closer look at another tool we can use to help us feel well rested and focused: meditation.

Related: 7 Bedtime Routines to Help You Sleep Tight

Not too long ago, whenever someone would say the word “meditation”, I would picture monks sitting in a dark room chanting in foreign languages and think, “I can’t do that. Besides, who has the time to just sit there anyway?” So before we get to the how-to of meditation, I’d like to take moment to dispel some common thoughts you might be holding onto.

“Meditation has changed my life for the better, making me more productive and steady in mindset.”

First of all, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. In fact, you’ve probably already meditated, you just didn’t know it. It can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. Secondly, meditation is for everyone, as it can benefit nearly every aspect of life from work to relationships. As your mind releases stress while you meditate, your body can enter deeper rest than when you’re sleeping, which leads to an abundance of mental and physical benefits. Consistent meditation can strengthen the immune system, reduce blood pressure, and help you sleep better. On the mental side, focus improves, leading to higher rates of productivity, creativity, and connection to those around you.

Related: How do I Create Lasting Change in My Life?

If any of these benefits sound worthwhile to you, but you’re not sure where to begin, I’ve put together four simple steps to help get you started.

Step 1 – Get comfortable. This could mean lying in your bed, or sitting on a pillow or your favorite chair. Find a position that feels comfortable for you so that you can release tension in your muscles and focus your attention inward.

Step 2 – Breathe. Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths in your nose and out your mouth. Even if you stop here you’ll feel better.

Step 3 – Repeat your mantra. Choose a single word or phrase you want to bring more of into your life and softly repeat it in your head. If you notice your thoughts drifting at any point, don’t worry about it, just come back to your mantra. If you’re having trouble thinking of a mantra, use a simple one like an “I am…” statement, or continue to focus on your breath.

Step 4 – Reawaken the body. After what you think has been the 5 or 10 minutes you intended to meditate for, take a long, deep breath in and out, wiggle your fingers and toes, and slowly open your eyes.

Meditation has changed my life for the better, making me more productive and steady in mindset. If doing it on your own seems intimidating, keep in mind that there are tons of free resources online – and even apps now – that offer guided meditations and may take some of the pressure off. I highly recommend meditating in the morning, before the day has flooded the mind, but whenever works best in your schedule works too, whether that’s before bed or during a lunch break. My hope is that in time, you can find benefit from this practice like I did, and add it to your toolkit of ways to recharge.

–Jay Alexander

Coach/Trainer

jay@crossfitslipstream.com