Finding your own way to Zen

Woman meditating --- Image by © Felix Wirth/Corbis

When I worked as a therapist at my previous job, we participated in weekly mindful “sessions” during supervision. This was not my idea of meditation because I view this practice as something to do in private; sort of like when you take a shower or use the bathroom. Those are things you typically do by yourself which are expected to be relaxing.  Personally, I could not get much out of meditating with other people in the room especially not at work.

Meditation is also spiritual to me and any presence of negative energy (which cannot  be controlled within a group of people) can throw off my vibe. I did not like the fact that there was always potential for distraction with outside noise and sounds from the noisy people in the waiting room right outside of the door. So, there went the peace and quiet necessary for an effective meditation routine. It’s best to limit or eliminate distraction entirely.  It is a goal of many to be able to maintain that sense of peace despite chaos or distraction at some point but I’m not quite there yet.  I’m still exploring and finding my way so to speak.

I’ve also found that there are many different methods of meditation and what works for one does not work for the other. I have tried different ways of meditating. I’m still working on creating a routine that I can stick to which works best for me. It’s easy to become overwhelmed because there is so much information floating around especially on the internet about meditation. Based on what I have learned, here is list of important factors to consider when beginning your practice:

      1. Time of day: Choose a time of day when you think you will have little to no distractions (it’s best to eliminate them completely). For example, consider early morning or in the evening before bed when your phone is least likely to ring and everyone else is asleep.
      2. Becoming overwhelmed:  Focus on breathing deeply for as long you comfortably can at your own pace during your preferred time of day instead of trying to jump straight into a twenty or thirty minute meditation. No need to feel pressured. The whole point of meditation is to relax not cause even more stress or anxiety. Breathing deeply for five minutes a day can be just as effective.
      3. Flexibility:  Try to avoid becoming too rigid or stagnant by only meditating at home or specific place. We all have moments throughout the day whether at work, school, etc. when we need to step away to take a break for a minute or two to regroup.  You may find this to give you that boost you need to get through the day (healthier than coffee and cheaper too).  Be creative and if necessary go to your car, the bathroom, where ever you can get comfy.  If you have an office close your door and take a few minutes to just breathe.
      4. Exploring options: If deep breathing is not enough for you and you feel like you need something more “total body”, try yoga, pilates, or pure barre. These are forms of exercise where breathing is a major part of the technique utilized to increase focus and improve endurance. It’s not “technically” meditation but it is a great way to experience the art of deep breathing in a fun way.
      5. Using technology wisely: If you want to use the internet as a guide there are several phone apps (free and for a small price) and youtube has many videos. Also, check out your online stores ie. itunes which contain a plethora of meditation podcasts with different themes according to your needs. After all, we do live in a digital world. Why not make good use of it for our benefit by using our devices for meditation.
      1. Religious beliefs: Meditation is not about religion nor was it created to be a replacement for praying to God or other higher power. It is meant to be personalized to the individual’s needs. If you want to sit and meditate by repeating a mantra or reciting a prayer, that is fine. If you choose to meditate by reading a bible scripture, that can work too.

Bottom line, meditation can be made to fit any schedule, it’s good for the soul and regardless of what religion you follow anyone can benefit from it as well. I know many have strong convictions about meditation due to the “mindless” aspect (among others) which has been the center of controversy surrounding this topic. Just do you and don’t think too hard about it. Make it suitable to your lifestyle. If you want to skip the idea altogether that is fine too but please respect other people’s right to engage in different forms of relaxation that suit them whether you agree with it or not.