Handling a constant flow of emails, deadlines, and meetings, not to mention making sure you have social time and run all your errands ... it becomes hard to find even a moment to breathe.
If just that sentence low-key stressed you out, then you would probably benefit from the ancient Buddhist practice of meditation. While there are many techniques of meditation, the main focus is to be mindful of your body in the present moment, either through focused breathing or getting rid of stray thoughts, according to Gizmodo. Essentially, it's training the mind.
"Meditation is a training of our attention," Tara Brach, a meditation teacher in Washington, D.C. told The New York Times. "It allows us to step out of distracted thought and helps us arrive in the present moment in a balanced and clear way."
The results of practicing meditation are impressive, ranging from reduced stress to increased happiness and possibly even reversing the memory loss from Alzheimer's. Oh, also you sleep better.
But trying to think about nothing when our phones are constantly chiming and our minds are racing is incredibly difficult. (Did I turn off the stove? Did I send in that report? What time is that meeting again?) Here are some steps to help you successfully meditate and hopefully reach some Zen in your hectic life.
1. Create a calm environment.
Turn off the lights, light a few candles, grab a pillow, close the door, and get comfy.
"Your mind will invent enough distractions on its own, so no need to sit somewhere where there are other things going on," Danielle Ford, a Denver-based meditation instructor, told Fitness.
2. Try guided meditation.
The New York Times has four sets of differently-timed, guided meditations, which come in handy if you're just starting out or need help focusing. There are also a few apps, such as The Mindfulness App and Headspace.
3. Concentrate on your breathing or a mantra.
Focus on your inhales and exhales. This helps clear your mind of other thoughts. You can do the same with a mantra, like "om." You can keep count of your slow breaths at first, but eventually, you'll fall into your own rhythm, according to Real Simple. Also, concentrate on the sensations your body feels.
4. Don't try to change your thoughts quickly.
When the inevitable happens and your mind wanders, don't be too hasty to try to clear your mind. It's actually easier to acknowledge what you were thinking about and then let it go, slowly returning your focus to your breath.
5. Stretch or incorporate yoga.
Since yoga helps you get in touch with your body through stretching and breathing, it can also aid in meditation.
6. Set a timer.
This way you don't have to check your clock to see how long you've been meditating. Additionally, you can up the time increments as you continue to practice.
7. Be grateful.
To help you relax and dispel any negative thoughts, think about the things you are grateful for in your life, such as your family and friends, and give thanks to them.
8. Make it a ritual.
Find a time either in the morning or at night when you can consistently practice meditating. As you continue, you'll be able to reap its rewards outside of your meditation space and in the real world.
Especially in today's world, it helps to be a bit more mindful. We could all benefit from taking the necessary time to breathe, regroup, and reset.