With ever-piling responsibilities and a constant bombardment of information from screens, screens and more screens, life can begin to feel overwhelming, distracted and disjointed. In the midst of a hectic routine, it can be difficult or nearly impossible to feel present in the moment, making the entire day feel like you are hopping from one task to the next with no real intention.
In this article, we will walk through how to build brief meditations into your every day routine to serve as the glue to your life, creating a strong sense of presence and overall mental well-being.
- How to Assess Your Meditative Practice
- The Benefits of Regular Meditation
- The Bottom Line
How to Assess Your Meditative Practice
Within every day, there's an opportunity to pause and take a moment to clear your mind. There doesn't need to be a strict schedule for when this occurs, it's just important that it happens. The biggest step to incorporating meditation into your life is to think about your unique routine and try to understand the best way to fit some new habits into it. By being honest with yourself on what is realistic, you can best determine when, where and how to change your life and to put yourself on a healthy meditation routine.
When Should I Meditate?
Not to over-simplify the process, but as hinted above, really the best time to meditate is whenever and however most suits what is going on in your life daily. Of course, everyone has an opinion on the best time of day to meditate: at night before bed, on your lunch break, precisely 2.5 hours before sunrise when the sun is at an optimal angle for your spirit.
In the end though, most any guru will agree, making sure you meditate regularly is first and foremost important over hitting any other specific guidelines. So, to gauge when that time might be for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my schedule fairly consistent from day-to-day?
- Do I have recurring triggers for stress?
- Am I the type of person who will stick to a schedule on their own or do I need help?
Maybe you're someone who has every second of every day meticulously planned.
That could make it easy to just decide to carve out 5-10 minutes for a consistent yoga practice and set up a recurring calendar notification along with your 4:02 PM to 4:09 PM nap. If you're not that person, maybe you can identify regular events or patterns in your life that can act as reminders to meditate.
We already mentioned timing up meditation with sleep patterns and food but maybe you watch the news or read books often. Whenever you're about to engage in these activities, they can serve as useful triggers where you tell yourself, "I'm going to do a 10 minute breathing exercise before I read my book."
If there are specific stress triggers you can identify in your life, you can also flip these on their head and take a stressful moment as a sign that you need to take a moment. Again, the specifics of the routine do not matter as much as molding the right routine for you.
Where Should I Meditate?
You might see a recurring theme here, but the question of where to meditate also falls in the realm of doing what's best for you. The classic advice for meditating is to be in a peaceful space where distractions will be limited. That is extremely broad! You can sit, walk, run, drive, workout; the options are literally limitless and primarily dependent on what will best allow you to calm your thoughts and find peace.
How Should I Meditate?
There's a wide range of meditation techniques practiced, but the following covers a few broad practices that are particularly well-suited for a busy schedule:
- Breathing Exercises
In general, simple breathing exercises can be deeply meditative while providing clarity of mind all within a very brief time-span. The beauty of breath-based meditation is that you can do it literally whenever you're breathing. The primary goals of a breathing practice are to focus attention on your breath cycles, put yourself in a comfortable, calming location and allow your thoughts to slowly subside resulting in a more peaceful mindset.
The location of breathing exercises do not matter so much as long as you are able to focus your mind on your breath. There are a wide range of popular breathing techniques, so experiment to find what works for you or possibly look into taking a class on how to get the most out of this meditation!
- Affirmative Meditation & Mantras
An affirmation and mantra-based meditation practice looks to use key phrases and positive sentiments as anchors for general well-being. Affirmations and mantras can be any statement or sentiment of your choosing that you would like to consistently keep at the top of your mind along with anything that you feel can act as a good reminder to reel in your thoughts if you may be feeling anxious or stressed.
Once you have a phrase chosen, the actual practice works by finding your chosen meditative space and repeating the phrase over and over until you feel focused and mindful. This type of practice can almost be a cheat-code to wellness if you find the right words for you, as it's designed to put you in a meditative mindset quickly. Look to incorporate a mantra or positive affirmation thinking if you are someone that may have trouble quieting down your mind with breathing exercises alone.
- Guided Meditation
For some people, it's just impossible to sit still by yourself, especially when stressed or anxious. The two above practices both would be considered solo or silent meditations that are driven by you alone. If you find it difficult to calm a hectic mind on your own, that is completely normal and there are various tools out there to help you.
Guided meditation is any practice that uses an outside source or person to offer instructions and tips to help put you in a mindful and peaceful state. Since someone else is driving the practice, guided meditation can be very powerful in helping individuals release control and allow themselves to fall into a deeply meditative state. Like everything else we've discussed, setting up a good guided meditation routine is all about finding what works best for you whether it's apps or coaches.
The Benefits of Regular Meditation
All of the techniques described will be useful tools in bringing a peaceful mindset and various forms of meditation have similar benefits. A few research-based findings on the above practices are as follows:
- One research study out of the University of Pisa was able to measure various positive physiological effects from slow breathing techniques that equated to increased comfort, relaxation and alertness. The study found that breathing techniques seemed to modify various aspects of the autonomic and central nervous system resulting in these increased benefits in addition to reducing anxiety, depression and anger.
- A cross-institutional study on self-affirmation found that consistently writing and/or thinking about one's core values translated to measurable changes (using fMRI) in neural responses that allowed for an increase in receptiveness to health and lifestyle interventions.
- The Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing conducted a literature review specifically on guided meditation finding many benefits to the practice such as relief of symptoms from general anxiety disorder. Additionally, guided meditation was found to promote a serene overall mindset and deepened understanding of one's self.
The Bottom Line
Even seconds can be the difference between a cluttered, stressed-out mind and peaceful nirvana, so try to evaluate your routine and see what makes the most sense for you to implement more meditative moments in your life.
At Empress Teas, our products, resources and community are all aimed at helping you build the right lifestyle for your mental wellbeing. We look forward to being your guide on the journey to wellness.