We all want to to be able to relax and find what we imagine to be some zen-like state where we feel calm and peaceful. Our daily lives keep our mind working on over-time, and it can certainly take its toll on us, both mentally and physically. I had heard so many people talk about the amazing benefits of mediation, so I decided that it only made sense that I should be meditating, too. Unfortunately, after several failed attempts at embracing a meditation practice, I had pretty much given up. It seemed more of a chore to me than a relaxation technique. I had to find a quiet place, stop what I was doing, filter out distractions. Was I sitting the right way? Was I doing it right? What was supposed to happen? This all seemed too difficult for me, so I conveniently became forgetful and stopped even trying.
After a while, I had pretty much dismissed the idea of mediation and continued on with my life. Because I do a lot of writing, I have developed some techniques that help get me in my “writing place” before beginning to write. Well, as I sat in the stillness and prepared myself to start writing, I realized something. I was meditating! How did this happen? I was just winging it, and it felt so good! Amazed, I decided to figure out what exactly I was doing, and how I was bringing myself into this peaceful state that I had discovered myself in. So today, I want to share some of the tips I have discovered that may help you calm your mind. If you let yourself, you might find yourself meditating by accident, too!
1. Use falling asleep as your springboard. When you are lying in bed at night, use that time before falling asleep to relax. Notice the noises in the room, feel how cool the sheets feel against your skin, close your eyes and see the darkness behind your eyelids. Feel yourself sink into your mattress, notice how loose your muscles are as you lay in bed. Before you know it, you will have drifted off to sleep, and you will have also started training yourself to consciously relax.
2. Focus on your breath. Deep breathing has really become the key to centering myself in so many different instances! When relaxing, close your eyes and take slow deep breaths; focus on your breathing the whole time. As your mind wanders (and it will!), bring your attention back to your breathing. Listen to each breath, notice how the air feels as it enters your nose and as it leaves through your mouth. Count your breaths to help you stay focused if you need to, but always bring your mind back to your breathing.
3. Make your own rules. One of the stumbling blocks for accomplishing many things is that we are too attached to doing things a certain way for something to be “right” or to be effective. Don’t get tripped up by over-analyzing what you think you should be doing. You don’t like sitting on on the floor? Sit in a chair! You don’t have time in the morning? Do it whenever you want! You only have three minutes? Then spend three minutes! You can be still and relax anywhere, anytime; you can be sitting, or standing; do it at home, or in the parking lot at work; start first thing in the morning, or do it right before you run out the door for soccer practice. You do not have to follow any rules! People are only sharing their best practices, which may or may not work for you, so go with the flow and do what feels right.
4. Don’t Give Up! This is not something that really takes any effort; it just takes practice. Like anything in life, the more we do something, the easier it becomes. Don’t allow the mental noise in your mind to stop you from finding a few minutes of peace. Give yourself the gift of silence as often as you can.
When I found myself mediating by accident, it was because I had let myself off the hook and savored the time, no matter how long, that I could spend relaxing. In order to relax, I had to stop thinking, and to stop thinking, I had to relax. You can do it too, you just need to let it happen!