If you are anything like me, you have surely heard all about the different meditation techniques out there and the importance of meditating 5 minutes daily.
You’ve tried to do it… in fact, you get off to a great start, you create a new habit (or at least you think you have) and next thing you know your 5 minutes of meditation bliss have been replaced by [insert random activity here].
BUT YOU REMAIN DETERMINED. You know all about the benefits, you know you should be doing it, and you push yourself yet again.
The solution to the problem is easy: create new habits that stick. I started my mini-course on procrastination precisely because I wanted to learn how to create new and productive habits that could help me reach my goals. If you want to be the first to hear about it, make sure to sign up for my newsletter at the top of this page or below this article.
But what if creating and starting the habit of meditation itself is not the problem?
Have you asked yourself what is truly holding you back from sitting down cross-legged with your eyes closed for at least 5 minutes daily?
Yes, I am sure meditating cross-legged is more helpful than not.
Yes, I am sure meditating with your eyes closed is even more helpful than not.
But the truth of the matter is that if you are learning meditation, or if you feel like you’re too busy to meditate, the fact that you think that in order to meditate you must sit cross-legged or close eyes for five minutes will actually work against you. Take the following scenarios for example:
- Scenario #1: You wake up and because you have heard the best time to meditate is right after you wake up you proceed to… ehem… fall back asleep for five more minutes.
- Scenario #2: You actually do wake up, you sit up cross legged, spine straight, close your eyes, and let your monkey mind run wild as you go down your to-do list for the day ahead of you—so much for meditation.
- Scenario #3: You just don’t feel like sitting still or closing your eyes and therefore you cannot meditate.
meditating with a straight spine, sitting cross legged and with your eyes closed while you chant “Om” may be the ideal way to meditate, but it is not the only way to do it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
So if you could relate to any of the scenarios above, what can you do if you still want to meditate?
First, understand what meditation really is all about.
The benefits of meditation are everywhere on the interweb. MayoClinic, numerous HuffPo articles, websites created specifically for the different meditation techniques… we all know them almost by heart:
- Reduced stress,
- Better focus,
- Increased happiness,
- Increased self-awareness (and we all know just how important self-awareness is in the formula for success).
But what is meditation?
Is it really all about sitting down cross-legged? Not quite.
I have been practicing Kundalini yoga since 2009, a kind of yoga that combines physical exercises with chanting and meditation. And from my own practice, I have come to realize that meditation is both focused attention and a state in which you simply let go of that focused attention.
More importantly, I have found that all meditation techniques have three basic things in common. In fact, this is where these alternative meditation techniques come in. Instead of thinking that you must sit cross-legged, that you must close your eyes, and that you must chant Om, why not take the basics of meditation and apply them to your everyday life?
Isn’t that what building sustainable habits is all about anyways?
The basics of meditation as alternative meditation techniques
An integral part of any meditative practice or any of the many different meditation techniques out there is to take deep breaths. Simple as that.
That means that if you want to meditate, you can meditate anytime you take a deep breath—are you stuck in Houston traffic? No problem, take a deep breath; are you walking your dogs? No problem, breathe deeply; are you crocheting (my new favorite), no problem, breathe deeply.
Every breath you take is an opportunity to meditate on the spot.
2. Focused attention
Surely you have heard about focusing your attention on a mantra as part of certain meditation techniques. Just like with breathing throughout your day, create an opportunity to focus your attention away from the stress in your life and focus on something that is beneficial instead. Practicing target desired states is actually an excellent practice to help you achieve your goals.
Focus on the breath, a mantra, or your inner states. The point is to be in the present moment.
3. Observing your thoughts
Mindfulness and detachment are two very important byproducts of meditation. So why not benefit from them by observing your thoughts?
You know that voice inside your head that is reading through the words of this article? Yes, that one. Step away from it for a minute and observe it without judgment. Realize that you have thoughts about your thoughts. Now practice this exercise throughout your day—it will do wonders in your life.
Yes, you should eventually work your way to sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed for five minutes daily. Heck, maybe you can eventually work your way up to a 10-day silent meditation retreat! But don’t feel bad if you are busy and feel like you don’t have time to sit down for five minutes—thinking that you don’t have time is part of the problem, and beating yourself over it is only making it worse.
I’m also not saying to re-invent the wheel. All I am saying is that you can still benefit from a meditative practice without going out into a cave for six months. All you have to do is to make it a point to take deep breaths, focus your attention, practice mindfulness, and voilá.
What about you? How do you meditate?
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