Today’s guest post is by the incredible Dawn Mauricio. I can’t say enough good things about this woman. She is an amazing person with infectious positivity. I hope that this post has a positive impact on your life.
When people find out I teach meditation, the most common reactions are “I tried meditating and it’s not for me. My mind is just too busy” and “I really wish I could meditate, but I can’t because I have (kids/full-time school or work/roommates/a small apartment).” The good news is that despite obstacles like a very busy mind or lifestyle, you can meditate. In fact, you should meditate. Already rolling your eyes? Don’t knock it before you try it, and read on.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice that encourages staying in the present moment with awareness. Through this awareness, you learn to see your thoughts without reacting to them. Imagine yourself lying in the grass one sunny day, gazing up at the clouds, and after seeing a cloud that you really liked you got up to run after it. A little absurd, no? Meditation teaches us not to run away with our thoughts, regardless how pleasant or unpleasant they are.
Who is it for?
The beauty about mediation is everyone can do it. Meditation is one of the most simple and accessible practices I know. No stretchy pants, flexible bodies, or expensive shoes are needed. Kids, tweens, teens, adults, retirees – basically everyone – can benefit from meditation.
In recent decades, there have been countless studies on meditation, all citing positive outcomes. This 2,500-year-old practice has been known to decrease stress, relax the nervous system, increase confidence, develop intuition (a.k.a. your gut feeling), and increase compassion and concentration. All this without even breaking a sweat! Sounds like a winning practice to me.
Now the big question: HOW?
Imagine a dock, a rowboat, and a river. If you did not tie up your boat, or anchor it, it will most likely drift away, slowly at best if the river is calm, and quickly if it is active. The dock is the present moment, the boat is your attention, and the river is your thoughts. We anchor the mind in meditation by giving it something to focus on in the present moment, for example the breath.
If this seems vague or abstract, sharpen your concentration by silently repeating to yourself “inhaling” when you inhale, and “exhaling” when you exhale. Do this over and over, and when the mind wanders (which it undoubtedly will), simply come back to your mental noting – “inhaling, exhaling.” If you sit for five minutes and you have to bring your mind back a hundred times or didn’t even notice you mind wandered until your timer went off, that’s ok. That’s the practice. Just like you strengthen your muscles by going to the gym, you can begin to strengthen your concentration and awareness with a regular meditation practice.
This blog post is the Coles Notes for a crash course on meditation. You may need added encouragement to cultivate the discipline for a truly worthwhile daily meditation practice. On my website, you can explore the different ways to sit comfortably, listen to a 15 minute guided meditation, and see a list of resources that have helped me, such as free talks by North America’s leading meditation teachers, and book titles.
Onwards and upwards on this journey! What are you waiting for?
Dawn’s first exposure to meditation was on retreat in a Thai monastery in 2006, and the world hasn’t seemed the same since. She teaches yoga and meditation in a variety of settings around Montreal, and can be regularly found half-way around the world leading yoga and meditation retreats. Dawn continues to sit silent meditation retreats, study with senior teachers, and practice daily. She is also the founder of Yoga Mala Foundation.
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