This whole global pandemic has led to a lot more people becoming interested in meditating, which has already been on the rise in recent years. As self-care and personal development become cool again, many turn to meditating as a way to combat the craziness of the world and find themselves again. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my meditation practice is not perfect. I got into meditating mostly through yoga, but then I explored it further through readings from all sort of meditators and an endless amount of podcasts about the benefits of a strong meditation practice.

I hope that if you’re considering meditating, you’ll find this article a great place to start and find resources for further growth. 

First, let’s talk about what meditating IS and what it IS NOT. 

Meditation, according to monk Gelong Thubten, is a practice of sitting down and training our mind using certain techniques. It is not, he explains in his book A Monk’s Guide to Happiness, turning your brain off or making it blank. Instead, it is about coming to peace with your inner thoughts and not simply banishing them or even overreacting to them. It’s about letting the mind BE instead of being bothered by your thoughts. 

Now, let’s talk about how to meditate. 

Many people meditate in a seated position, eyes closed, in a quiet space. They focus on their breath to control themselves and any thoughts that might distract them. This is great for beginners because it is recognizable to us. However, that’s not the only way to meditate. There are standing meditations, meditations where you focus on different colors and shapes, walking meditations, and more. Meditation is a very personal experience for many, and exploring in your own meditation practice can help you find the form of meditation that works for you. You can read about the various types of meditations here, but the key is being alone with yourself and your thoughts and turning inwards, instead of outward. Give yourself space to simply exist with your thoughts instead of trying to control them. Read more about tips for meditation here.

I recommend watching this great video of a guided meditation at first, and then practice meditating on your own. Remember,it’s okay if thoughts come to you. It’s how you react, or don’t react that matters. There are lots of videos, apps, and audio books that can help you guide through a meditation, but most experts recommend moving away from those eventually so that you don’t become too reliant on them in your practice.

Scientists recommended meditating twice a day for 20 minutes each, but many people meditate more or less often. You will get out of meditation what you put into it. 

Speaking of that…what can you get out of meditation? 

If you haven’t listened to the podcast The Happiness with Laurie Santos, I cannot recommend it enough. She has a lot of great insight into mindfulness, meditation, and happiness (from a scientific perspective) but also interviews people who have been meditating for years and people who study it intensely. 

We as lay people think of meditation as a calming, serene experience–and it is that. But it’s also so much more. It can change the way your brain responds to stressors. It can help you sleep better. Mindfulness and meditation techniques have been found, in scientific studies, to lead to reduced symptoms of depression, fibromyalgia, anxiety, and PTSD, among other major issues that plague so many. One study even found that consistent meditation changed gene expression! Meditation can also lower your blood pressure. The science isn’t perfect–and results may vary–but it can’t hurt to give meditation a try. Whether you’re dealing with crippling anxiety or just work stress, meditation can help you in some way. 

You can read more about some of the benefits of meditation here, but keep in mind that studies are on-going and almost constant.

I also recommend looking into real people you know or look up to that have talked about how meditation has impacted them. One famous book on the topic is 10% Happier by Dan Harris.

So…what’s next? 

Give meditation a try. It’s truly something you can’t really do wrong. You don’t need a fancy mat or seat or a retreat in the middle of the Adirondacks. In fact, you can do it on your bed or in the chair you are sitting in right now.

You can also look at some other resources on meditation, which are plentiful. 

I love this book, Breathe Like a Bear, for kids and adults alike. It’s a great introduction to mindfulness and many techniques that go hand-in-hand with meditation. 

There’s also the Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness and A Monk’s Guide to HappinessThe Happiness Lab podcast is great for mindfulness in general, but you can also check out this list of 20 great meditation podcasts

There are also a few apps out there–including Calm and Headspace–that specialize in guided meditations. 

Your local yoga study also likely incorporates meditation into each course. Attend one in person or online or keep an eye out for meditation-focused practices like yoga nidra.

Future Female Leaders is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member