Meditation for Beginners – 3 Ways to Start

meditation for beginners - 3 ways

Beginning to meditate can be daunting to some people. It sounds all so easy – just sit and quiet your mind. But if you are anything like me, learning to calm that crazy monkey mind is tougher than it sounds. It’s why so many quit trying to meditate so quickly. Their practice ends before it begins. Which almost happened to me too. So if you need a little extra help meditating, why not try a different method? Here are 3 ways to meditate that I’ve seen or experienced working for beginners or just people who have a lot on their minds.

Guided Meditation

meditation for beginners - guidedA guided meditation, uses visual mental imagery. By focusing on a relaxing scene, you give your brain something to keep it from wandering while also calming your thoughts.

To do a guided meditation, we actually like to use youTube. There are some great resources on there. One we particularly like is The Honest Guys. My daughter listens to a guided meditation by them to help her fall asleep at night. Boho Beautiful also has some great meditations I like to listen to.

If you have listened to a few guided meditations you may have figured out what works for you. In that case, you can always guide your own meditation.

Even if you haven’t, you can picture a scene that relaxes you. Perhaps you are on the beach at twilight, hanging on a hammock between two palm trees. You can close your eyes and listen to the waves peacefully crashing into shore. Or maybe you are camping in your favorite campground. Your sleeping bag is warm and cuddly around you. Close your eyes and listen to the crickets chirping. Think of whatever scene most relaxes you. I try to choose nature scenery. And then experience all of your senses using your mind’s eye. See it. What does it sounds like? Smell like? How does the  breeze feel? Can you almost taste the sea air on your tongue?

Walking Meditation

Ymeditation for beginners - walkinges, you can actually meditate while you walk. If you are new to meditation, this can be a good method because walking can be so peaceful and relaxing.

Find a quiet, calming location. Or somewhere you feel comfortable.

You can experiment with your focus.

Ffocus on the natural rhythms your body creates when walking – your breath or your footfall.

Or  use a focus word, such as “courage,” “dream,” or “create.” Say the word, out loud or in your head, with the rhythm of your feet.

Meditative Coloring

meditation for beginners - coloringColoring books are all the rage right now.

When you are coloring, your are completely focused on the task at hand. It helps keep you in the present moments and  let go of the other distractions.

It’s a great way to practice focus and mindfulness, if you have a hard time reeling it in.

 

Do you meditate? What method do you use?

 

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Break the Pattern! | Stress Management

break the pattern | stress management

“I dropped my cereal. I stepped in a puddle. My socks are wet. I don’t like these I didn’t have time to do my hair properly. And I can’t find a headband!” My daughter began to sob in my car as she began her Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day type of tirade. I felt like I was looking at the me from certain parts of my life in the past. I knew where this could be headed. So I had to do something about it.

Not many people know this but I’m a pretty big Tony Robbins fan. And in the recent documentary I Am Not Your Guru, he reiterates one of his techniques which is to “break the pattern.”

My daughter was creating a pattern in her head. She was looking for all of the bad things that happened to her that morning. And I was afraid that she would continue to look for the bad things that happened to her during the day and just be miserable.

So I thought I have to break the pattern but how?

Tony Robbins uses humor a lot and sometimes adult language among other methods (but for some reason that’s what popped into my head in the moment) neither of which would work in this situation. Mostly because, while I think I’m hilarious, my kids don’t always feel the same way.

So I said “Man that seems like a lot of bad stuff that happened already this morning. Now tell me something that happened good this morning.”

She got quiet. She had to change her thinking. I did it. I broke her pattern.

“Anything, even the littlest thing. The weather. Do you like the change in weather?”

“Meh.”

“Okay tell me something else then.”

“Well I wasn’t mad when I woke up.”

“You woke up on the right side of the bed. I’m happy for that!”

“No I didn’t. . . I woke up on the left side.” Humor! She had now broken her own pattern and was creating a new one. “I have three tests today.” I asked her if she knew what was going to be on the test and she said yes. “So you’re prepared!” I exclaimed. She agreed and continued to tell me about the tests and the classes. By the time we got to school, she hopped out of the car with a smile on her face and walked into school standing pretty darn tall.

Have you ever seen yourself or someone you love start that negativity spiral? Break it! Try to pull them out of that funk before it becomes a pattern that hangs over them like a dark cloud.

  • Use humor.

    Making someone laugh can begin to break through that negativity and open a door for further conversation.

  • Surprise!

    The element of surprise can change a person’s thinking by figuratively knocking them off balance. It has the power to stop people in their tracks. Then there’s the opportunity to change their focus.

  • Physical Activity.

    Movement, changing your body’s position in space can change your perspective both literally and figuratively. Go for a run. Do mountain climbers. Drop and give me 50. Or whatever. Exercise releases endorphins and dopamine – feel good chemicals. Plus when I finish exercising, I always feel slightly more accomplished. Like I can check something off of my to-do list or like I’m worth taking some time to take care of myself. This is also a great long term strategy. (See more below.)

There are also long term strategies to help you naturally improve your abilities to deal with stress.

  • Physical Activity.

    Regular physical activity can improve sleep, mood, concentration, and memory. It can help to handle stress and increase daytime energy. Over time, some studies even show that regular exercise could help symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders. Just make sure to check with your doctor before you start an exercise program.

  • Practice Mindfulness.

    Mindfulness involves staying in the present, allowing things to happen without judgment. There is mindfulness meditation (see below), but you can also use mindfulness in your everyday tasks. Stay in the moment. If something bad happens. It’s okay to experience, to feel upset, but then let it go. Because right now is the only time you can experience right now. So why waste it worrying about the past or the future. (Of course that’s not to say you can’t mourn or grieve, that is important. Or do tasks that will improve your future – everything you do right now should be for a better future, but enjoy doing it, not fretting about it.)

  • Meditation.

    You can meditate. Trust me you can. So many people say that they can’t, but I don’t know anybody whose mind can be in so many different places at once as me. Seriously for months, I would sit down to meditate and write stories in my brain, my head would go as far as to make up my own songs or greeting cards. I would think about work, school, the kids, something funny. And of course the never ending to-do list was running like a loop in the background the whole time. It’s okay if it feels like you are just always thinking. (Kind of how I’ve always said I do my best writing in the shower. It’s a time when things slow down and my mind just feels free to roam.)When your mind has a mind of it’s own, it’s okay to observe that thought. But then let it go. Don’t judge it. Just release it. Bring your focus back to your breath or intention. It takes time. Start with something small like 5 or 10 minutes a day. It didn’t take long before I began to see a change in my ability to handle stress and to have internal happiness, not dependent on external forces. I learned to slow down and process where I was in the moment. I’m not perfect, but progress is progress.

  • Practice Self Care.

    It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact it’s just the opposite. If you don’t take care of yourself and are already hanging on by a thread, one more stressor could make it snap. Take care of yourself. Build yourself up so no single event can knock you all the way down.

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LIVE – The Word of the Year

Live - Word of the Year

I’d heard of the word-of-the-year before. I always thought they were cool, but I never came up with one before because it was just too hard for me to figure out a word that could encompass a whole year. But while I was reading a post, suddenly it hit me and the word “LIVE” popped into my head. And that was that.

2016 was a rough year for many people. My family had a rough one too.  My father had a stroke. My mother was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and passed away a couple months later. My kids and I gave up a lot to be there and take care of him. I’m not complaining about it. I understand that it’s something that has to be done sometimes in families. But there was more screen time than I would normally condone. And a lot fewer outings, sporting events, birthday parties, etc. It was fine. We survived.

But I want to make sure 2017 is no longer about surviving. It needs to be about more than that. It’s about learning and laughing. Working hard and pursuing passions. I want my kids to enjoy life, to experience the world they live in, to question, to try, to feel joy. I want to work harder than I’ve ever worked and play more gleefully than I ever have. I want our family to grow closer, smarter, stronger, safer. We will be grateful with what we have. We will explore and seek to understand what we don’t. And we will make sure to give more than we take, to love, and mostly to LIVE.

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Alphabet Scavenger Hunt – Outdoor Family Game

I know I’ve been big on the outdoors thing lately. But I’ve been super stressed and had a 2 week long migraine that just finally went away this past weekend (knock on wood!). Being outdoors is soothing to me both emotionally and physically. The fresh air seems to help my head maintain a somewhat tolerable pain level. I think it is good for all of us though, regardless. Kids need nature in their lives too. But sometimes, once their faces get glued to a screen, I simply cannot find the proper remover. Sometimes, it’s just easiest to put a wall between them and the offending device.

One particular day I felt the need to get my son outside, he just wasn’t having it. So I exclaimed “let’s go try to take pictures that look like letters of the alphabet!” My son loves to take pictures so he loved the idea of getting to take some pictures too. So armed with our cameras, we took to the streets.

I thought it  best that I set an example so I took the first picture of the letter “A”:

Alphabet Scavenger Hunt - A

I showed him the picture and how the legs and seat of the chair come together to make a capital A. We traced the A in the picture with our fingers. So he got the idea and was excited to go off on our alphabet scavenger hunt.

Keep reading for more tips and to see some of the letters we found on our scavenger hunt.

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Lessons from the Littles: Life is about the Journey not the Destination

journeyWe are always rushing! Gotta go here, gotta go there. It’s like non-stop. All in the name of getting stuff done. We rush to school. We rush to sports. Even when all we have to do is play, we rush. We rush to playdates. We rush to the playground.

 

Such is the exact situation we were in the other day. We recently moved into a new development and there is a big park with a playground within a fairly reasonable distance. I wanted to try the trails and see if we could figure out which one would take us to the playground. I mean, one of them HAS to, right? So, of course, I’m thinking I’m being the cool, let’s-savor-life, living-in-the-moment kind of mom as we are heading to the trails. But nevertheless, I’m on a mission. I’m going to find that trail that will take us straight to the playground so we can play.

 

See the irony yet?  Read more

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The Bucket List Lifestyle

toy store
Not actually FAO Schwarz…something happened to my pics from that trip and they are ALL GONE!

Visiting family friends who live in New York City, we were taking a walk through the park and decided to head over to the famous FAO Schwarz.  Immediately, the image that sprang to our minds were the plethora of toys and the iconic Big Piano.  As we meandered around the 2nd floor, we saw a large crowd gathering.   Full of curiosity, we hurried over to get a peek at the cause of the commotion.  And there was the Big Piano. Employees were giving a concert.  They played Chopsticks, Heart and Soul, Fur Elise, and even a little Mozart. So fun!

Then it was our turn.  The kids were so excited.  We duly waited until we got to the front of the line. I told my daughter to take her shoes off and I would hold them for her while she plays the piano.  My friend looked at me like I was crazy. “We’re dancing on that piano too!” she exclaimed.  “We are???” I replied incredulously. “It’s a total bucket list experience,” she said resolutely.  Say no more.  My shoes were off and I was dancing on the piano alongside my daughter.  Yes, back then I felt a little silly, but when would I get another chance to do that?

That’s when I realized you have to live everyday like you are crossing off items on your bucket list.   It’s the Bucket List Lifestyle!canstockphoto5616091

When I was in 7th grade our teacher gave us little notebooks and as a creative writing assignment told us we had to come up with a list of 100 things we want to do during our life.  At that age, it was quite a hard task, but I enjoyed every moment of filling my little notebook with cool things I wanted to do until it was full. Then, again in 11th grade, I had a teacher who went to a workshop during which he had to come up with a list of 100 things to do before he died.  Thus he had us make our own list.

I hung on to these lists for as long as possible.  But I don’t think I actually kept either for more than a year. I can vaguely remember some of the things on the list, at least the more recent one, but that was quite some time ago. And I was kind of weird.

During my 20s, I made a few bucket lists and a few attempts at bucket lists.  But I didn’t really hang on to any of them.  (Mostly because I was prone to writing on scrap paper and then going on crazy cleaning kicks and throwing everything in the recycling bin.)  Every once in a while I pull out a notebook to check something and find a list at the back, on the last page.

Right now, I don’t keep a bucket list.  Not for any particular reason; I have just chosen not to keep one at this moment.  But I try to live the lifestyle. Every moment, every opportunity you get, you should be doing something that you feel like you would want to be able to cross off your bucket list.  Even if it’s just going to work.  That is helping me to cross off major items that would be on my list.  And when those little moments of fun, chances to be silly with the kids, or opportunities to move out of your comfort zone arise, don’t forget to take them!

It’s the Bucket List Lifestyle.
You don’t have to have a list. You just have to have an open mind.

 piano

And when life hands you a Big Piano, dance on it.toy

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