Guest post written by Smriti Tuteja from Yogic-Experience.com
The world is changing exponentially, and lives are getting more complex. As complexities increase, it is natural to feel overwhelmed constantly. Especially amidst all the turbulence that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused, it is now imperative more than ever to prioritize mental health and stay calm and energetic. Meditation has proven to be one of the effective ways to regain focus and nurture mental health amidst all the chaos.
Meditation is a healthy practice that requires sitting quietly, regulating the breath, and regaining focus. Research shows that meditation can reduce the risk of heart disease and increase productivity. This is because it resolves underlying issues such as stress and anxiety. It also positively affects creativity and intelligence. Meditation can help to bring a balance in life. People meditate to connect with their inner selves.
Getting into a meditation routine can be overwhelming in the beginning. This is because a gush of thoughts often clouds our minds. Staying quiet is not a challenge for most of us. The actual struggle lies in keeping the mind calm and undistracted.
If you also wish to incorporate meditation into your routine, here are some things you can focus on:
Breath: Breathwork is an important component of both yoga and meditation. Deep breathing at the beginning of a meditation session is a great way to start. As a practitioner, you must concentrate on breathing and feel the impact of each breath on the body. Conscious breathing is a great way to stay focused on your meditation. A study published by the University of Arizona found that breath meditation worked better to ease stress than other stress management techniques. This study was conducted on people that practiced SKY breath meditation, which is a one of its kind breath-based technique. The breath patterns in this technique are cyclical and rhythmic.
Your body parts: Align your body properly in the sitting or corpse pose and release any tension. In this article published by the Yogic-Experience team, a psychologist recommends consciously focusing on each body part and expressing gratitude towards them for their function. It is recommended to keep focus between the eyebrows as you do this.
Your energy and state of mind: Focus on your feelings as you align yourself into the meditation pose. Do you feel exhausted or sense bouts of energy that can last you through the remaining day? If you feel low on energy, try to figure out what may be draining it. Know what is occupying your mental space. I realized after meditating regularly that my thought process was getting repetitive. I was thinking the same things most of the time and it was draining my energy.
Gratitude: Naomi Williams quotes, “It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment. A study also shows that individuals who experience more gratitude have lower levels of depression. It is a good idea to start your meditation by being grateful. Focus on things in life that give you immense joy and be grateful for your privileges.
Your day: Focusing on the happenings of the day and deriving your learning from your experiences is a great way to go about your meditation. Think about a lesson that you derive and how it can make your life better. If you meditate in the morning, reflect on the previous day.
Negative thoughts that are weighing you down: Think about the past week and identify any negative experiences that may be causing stress. Resolve to let go of the negativity and start the next week on a fresh note. This ensures that you do not ignore your negative thoughts but face them and consciously decide to leave them in the past and move on.
Areas of improvement:
Focus on your shortcomings and identify ways to improve them. Think about ways in which you can bring about a change and benefit yourself and others around you. It helps to think about ways to be more kind and about ways in which you can bring about a difference in the lives of others.
Your Goals: Focus on your aspirations. Think of a single step you could take today to move closer to your goal. However, it is important not to get stuck thinking about your action plan. This is the time for you to feel fulfilled and in control. Think about things that can help you feel happier.
Your inspirations: Meditation is a way of mental detoxification. It opens your mind and helps you conceive new ideas. It is an ideal time to concentrate on people and things that inspire you. You could derive inspiration from anyone. For instance, my 5-year-old is my greatest inspiration; I try and focus my thoughts on how honest and unconditional his love is. This helps me to let go of my expectations and helps me to become a better person.
Emotional Triggers: We often get emotionally triggered. This either causes an emotional outburst or an internal stir. These triggers contribute majorly to mental health issues. While you meditate, trace back to the events that triggered negative emotions. Do not judge yourself and find ways to tackle your response to such situations in the future. Remember, being kind to yourself is as important as being kind to others.
Innate kindness and empathy: We judge ourselves too often, and it is easy to go overboard with the lack of self-love. This is one of the primary reasons for depression. Focusing on your inner compassion during meditation can help you realize how much you care for others around you. This will have a positive impact on your mental health and help you be more compassionate and kind. Meditation truly aids self-growth.
Forgiveness: When we hold grudges against people who wrong us, it hurts us more than it hurts them. Many people commit the mistake of dumping the hurt in the corner of their minds and trying to ignore it. This causes serious repercussions when something triggers that memory. Consciously facing your emotions while you meditate and choosing to forgive is the only way to move on from the hurt.
The beauty of nature: The world has enough beauty to fill our souls and inspire us. Focusing on beauty has a calming effect on the mind. It also instills a sense of gratitude.
Your core values: Focus on your value system and reflect on how it makes you a better person. Think about why you hold these values close to your heart and what impact they have on others around you.
The humanity of people around us: Sometimes, we hold other people accountable for things beyond their control. This alters our perception of them and the world. Use the meditation time to remind yourself that they are humans, too, and every human has inherent flaws. This aids acceptance and helps you forgive. Thinking of them as humans who perceive feelings just like you also helps you be more kind and compassionate.
The suffering in the world: Realizing the pain of others can help you develop perspective. It helps you to be aware of the struggles and challenges that others face and makes you more empathetic and kind.
Joys: Concentrate on what happiness means to you. Assess if you feel happy. How high do you rate yourself on the scale of happiness? This often becomes a point of self-realization for people who are chasing the illusion of happiness but are not actually happy.
Focus on positive emotions as you breathe in and negative ones as you breathe out: Concentrate on positive emotions such as love, inspiration, empathy, and kindness as you inhale and imagine that you are exhaling the negativity as you breathe out. Visualize that your stress, anxiety, and resentment retreat as you breathe out. This helps you to feel rejuvenated and optimistic.
Music: Soothing music is an integral part of any meditation session. It is a soothing experience to concentrate on just the music and enjoy it. It could be just instrumental tunes or profound lyrics. Music offers a great respite from everyday stress.
Food: It may seem unusual, but meditating while eating can be a very enriching experience. With all the world’s distractions, we often forget to relish food. Focusing on each bite and experiencing delight is a great way to meditate and value life. Talking about food, I would recommend not to meditate after a heavy meal. There is a small risk of dozing off. Wait for two hours.
Meditation is a personal experience, and each person experiences it differently. While these prompts can prevent you from being clueless during a meditation session, you need to focus on your strategy. It is also important for you to find a meditation position that calms you. In this article on Yogic-experience website, the author outlines some yoga poses that help to tackle depression and facilitate better mental health.
Meditation is all about focusing on your mind and redirecting your attention to a chosen focal point if the mind wanders. You are free to choose the focal point of your meditation. Remember that your meditation experience will depend on what you decide to focus on. Refrain from focusing on negative experiences or pain. This will only make it a stressful exercise for you, and you will refrain from doing it the next time.