A Quick and Dirty Guide to Meditation

“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.” - Jon Kabat-Zin

What's the one thing you could do tomorrow (or right now!) to further your self-love journey? I gave you 50 ideas in this post, but I think the most important, simple, and effective thing you can do to calm your mind, align with your intuition, and really accept yourself is to start a meditation practice.

It's not that starting a meditation practice is easy - like anything, it requires dedication - but it is simple. You don't need anything to do it, so you really can start right away. Although comfy clothes, a quiet place, and time to yourself all help, you can literally meditate anywhere. Walking, eating breakfast, riding the bus, and sitting at your desk can all become a meditation because, in its simplest form, meditation is an exercise in mindfulness. It's about centering yourself and tuning into the present moment.

There are many benefits to meditation, and they've been well researched and documented. In terms of our health, meditation lowers blood pressure, decreases tension in the body, increases serotonin production, and improves the immune system. It also reduces anxiety, improves our focus and memory, boosts our energy levels, and increases our creativity and compassion.

That's why starting a meditation practice is such a powerful act of self-love: you're giving yourself the gift of all these improvements through one daily habit. Not only that, but you're learning to tune into your intuition and becoming comfortable being completely alone with your thoughts - two things that many of us struggle with.

Although you can meditate anywhere at any time, I would suggest setting aside a small amount of time at the same each day. Start with just 5 minutes, preferably first thing in the morning as it's helpful to start your day with a clear, calm mind. It really will set the tone for the rest of your day.

Find a comfortable place to sit and set a timer on your phone. Close your eyes and tune into your breath. Breathe in and count one. Breathe out and count two. If your mind wanders, gently direct it back to your breath and start back at one. Don't judge your thoughts, just notice them and then let them go. When you become more practiced at quieting your mind, try counting each full (in/out) breath as one.

This is the most simple form of meditation I know, but you might prefer a guided meditation as it can be helpful to have someone's voice to focus on at first. And these can be useful for meditating on a particular issue or when you're working through something. I've included a collection of free guided meditations at the bottom of this post, but I would recommend trying a few until you discover which ones you like. The sound of someone's voice and the words they use can make a big difference as to whether a meditation resonates with you.

Once you've made a habit of meditating for five minutes everyday, increase it to 7 and then 10. To get the maximum benefits, aim for meditating for 15 to 20 minutes everyday. But if you find you can only squeeze in 5 or even 2 sometimes, it's better to stay with the practice than skipping it entirely.

You can also begin incorporating meditation into your daily life. When you find yourself feeling frazzled or anxious, pause and take a moment to focus on your breath. When you're eating, chew each bite slowly and savour the taste. When you're walking, even if it's a route that you take everyday, look around as ifyou're seeing everything for the first time and tune into all of the sounds that you can hear.

Over time you'll find that it becomes easier to quiet your mind. You might look forward to your daily meditation as a time that provides a lot of insights as our minds work best when our unconscious is allowed to work through a problem without directly focusing on it.

Every time you sit down on your mat or your cushion or your bed or wherever you choose to do your practice, remember that doing so is an act of self-love. That through meditation, you're actively cultivating a better relationship with yourself and directly improving your life. It might be frustrating or even infuriating at times, especially at first, but if you stick with it you really will notice the benefits very quickly.

Recommended Reading: Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, A Guide for Beginners How to Meditate Daily

Resources A Self-Love Meditation Free guided meditations from Gabrielle BernsteinFree Guided MeditationsSourcing Meditation

Do you have a meditation practice already? If not, will you commit to starting one today?

Images via Free People and Designspiration.