At some point everyone has had goals that seemed impossible. Keep moving forward and eventually they will just be milestone in your rearview.
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to lose that last 5 pounds or get that one pose in yoga. Remember that exercise is an investment in your future self.
You’re in it for the long haul!
Nicole Mims. PT, DPT
I’ve always loved Teddy Roosevelt quotes. This one rings true, especially today.
In my lifetime eastern practices have become more common with concepts such as mindfulness, meditation, feng-shui, and yoga entering the mainstream. I imagine that this stems from a western need to unplug from our fast-paced techno-driven lives. People constantly have their attention pulled in 5 different directions. Everyone tries to be everything. Single moms or dads who try to balance obligations to the PTA, work, and their own hobbies with soccer practice or continuing education. Millennials who are just beginning to dig themselves out of debt from college and the 2008 recession working full-time and trying to get their own personal projects off the ground… Perhaps we are just as busy as we used to be, but how we relate to one another has changed so much that we have lost touch with everyone, including us. After all, how many real, intense, or transformative interactions have any of us had that were brokered by social media. Maybe these eastern practices are becoming more popular because they provide a way by which we can come to know ourselves.
For my personal story, I began drinking too much in 2015 as a (poor) coping mechanism for anxiety. After life events made me see this, I decided to give up alcohol entirely. Searching for a way to calm my mind and develop a sense of peace I remembered meditating in martial arts classes when I was younger. We would perform several minutes of seated mediation at the beginning and end of class. I was always more focused after this. My instructor had told me about great Buddhist practitioners in Tibet who could endure torture, captivity and immolation because they had so trained their mind’s through meditation. I by no means was planning on such dire circumstances, but the idea of mental fortitude sounded exactly like what I needed at the time. I sought out a local Buddhist temple and it was not long before I was hooked.
Seated meditation or “Zazen” is the central practice of Zen Buddhism as Zen is very much focused on ‘doing’ to achieve the path. Recently my sister asked a few questions about meditation. Although far from a master, I felt both able and interested to discuss them here.
What is meditation?
Types of meditation
How do I begin meditating?
“None of that works for me”
1) Set a timer for how long you want to try to meditate for. Being conservative early on is usually helpful. If you are frustrated during your meditation it will cause a toxic mindset.
Bonus: This gives you fewer excuses for why you can’t fit meditation into your schedule. Maybe start with 5-10 minutes.
2) Sit down in a comfortable position. This does not need to be on a cushion or cross legged. Try to sit with decent posture as poor posture will cause you back or neck pain and this can detract from your experience.
3) Close your eyes almost all, or all the way.
Zen practice says to keep your eyes a little open and focus on a spot on the floor in front of you. However, if you are having difficulty ‘tuning out’ the world you may want to just close your eyes.
4) Observe your breathing. Some people begin by counting their breaths up to 10 before starting back at the beginning. Breath in and out smoothly and try to relax your body. Allow thoughts to drift away and think only about your breath.
5) When your timer sounds, open your eyes slowly. Thank yourself for taking ‘me time’
6) Repeat daily.
Yes, daily. Make it into a habit, part of your life. The benefits of meditating increase and become more permanent with time and frequency.
I myself have noticed that when I slack off on taking the time to practice, I become much more anxious, irritable and illogical. Like anything, the more you practice, the easier and more second nature it will become. If you frequently are able to achieve a calm state at will, how much easier will that be when you are stressed or anxious?
**Note that this information comes from my personal practice. I am not a guiding teacher, counselor, monk etc. This is also not meant to be a cure-all in any way. You may find that meditation is beneficial to you, you may not.
I hope that you have found this helpful.
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