|The roof at The Metropolitan Museum August 7, 2015|
There are ton of reasons why you don’t meditate and most of them I’ve heard myself say, too.
- I don’t get what meditation is exactly.
- I’ve heard of meditation but it sounds difficult.
- It sounds religious but I’m not religious.
- It sounds spiritual but I’m not spiritual.
- I heard you need something called a “mantra”. I don’t have a mantra.
- I don’t do yoga and meditation is a yoga thing, right?
- I’m not a Buddhist and this is a Buddhist thing, right?
- It’s not for me.
- I don't have time.
- I’m too busy.
- I tried it before and it didn’t work.
But I’m here as a food allergy counselor and expert asking you to try meditation again, in any form you like. But do try it.
Here are three reasons why:
- Meditation is proven to help ease anxiety. See this Forbes Magazine story.
- Anyone - you, your child, your mother, your coworker - can do it anywhere, anytime.
- It's free.
The first reason is the most important but the second two make meditation accessible to everyone. All of the time.
I’ve been meditating for over twenty years. Sometimes I’ve meditated with a formal practice like during 14 years of a weekly yoga practice. Sometimes I’ve meditated with a less formal practice like while sipping a cup of tea, sitting on a dock, overlooking the water, during a sunrise – heavenly. And here’s why I keep turning back to meditation in some form: having created a place of calm for myself means when I get anxious I have a place of calm place to return to.
Did you hear that? Anyone who manages anxiety needs a safe haven, a nest, a bubble of safety, to call up any time they feel anxious. A physical safe place to be able to go to is great: your couch or your bed but very often when we feel anxious, it’s situational and we aren't near our physical spaces of comfort. So, having a calm corner in our mind really, really helps. Meditation can help you create that calm corner of space in your mind; as you always have you mind on you, creating a calm-mind-room right now makes perfect sense, right?
There are many, many models of meditation. And any form will work. Find one that works for you and a time scale that works for you: one minute, 10 minutes, 30 minutes.
Start small, with a reachable goal.
Try three breaths first.
Or three minutes.
Start once a week, add days as you can.
There is no fail here, only win-win.
And remember, meditation is a practice. At first, your mind will race, you'll be thinking of everything but the present moment. That's all okay and to be expected. Just let it go and sit down again.
Here are two links to read more about meditation from PsychToday and a super simple starting meditation from Oprah.com.
There’s guided meditation where someone talks you through steps of relaxation or something religious or spiritual and you can find through Google plenty of free ones.
I like ocean waves, birds in nature, garden sounds and easy meditation music like Bansuri flute when I’m sitting, and again YouTube is a free treasure trove of goodies. The Tibetian bowls are delightful.
One more plug, I discovered R Carlos Nakai in college, while at Oxford University, and have loved him every since especially for meditation.
So now, go, sit, take some time for yourself, begin a practice of creating calm, of quiet, of presence. Make it a family activity (e.g. your children with food allergy will love doing this with you!).