The holiday hustle is wrapped. The ‘let’s wait until January’ waiting has expired and the list of to-dos has resurfaced with BIG ENERGY. We’re getting back to work, shipping the littles back to school and picking up the paces of the flurried lives we paused for the holidays.
We get it. We feel it. And we want to peep in real quick to offer how we can temper the reentry with a challenge that helps us make space and take time.
Yep. We’re making some space and taking some time to think through how to slow our pace to connect our body and mind in deep ways that bring us into ourselves and into our present space.
Do you have a meditation practice? Is it already a part of your daily cadence? If so, we’d love to hear your tips and approach, and if not, we’re sharing a bit of what we’re learning as we think about developing a practice and approach that helps us balance our mental, spiritual and emotional energy.
So, let’s start with the basics. What is meditation?
Meditation is a technique used for thousands of years to develop awareness of the present moment. It can involve practices to sharpen focus and attention, connect to the body and breath, develop acceptance of difficult emotions, and even alter consciousness. It has religious and spiritual roots in cultures all around the world.
There are many approaches to the technique and while we’re not experts, we have done some research on ways that meditation might work for you. The intention of meditation alone is one that allows you to engage in a self-awareness practice that makes us more aware, grounded and at ease.
There are several ways to meditate, and it might look different for each person based on preference, lifestyle choice and the ways in which they’re more inclined to connect with themselves and their spiritual center.
- Spiritual meditation: When practiced within a religious context, meditation supports a deeper connection with the Divine. In non-theistic traditions, meditation is more focused on self-awareness and self-actualization. In that sense, non-theistic spiritual meditation supports practitioners in becoming the best human beings that they can be. Whether secular or non-secular, the insights that are brought to light through spiritual meditation can help us develop qualities of benevolence and connection.
- Mindfulness meditation - to be a complete meditation technique mindfulness combines concentration with awareness. All that’s required is a disciplined meditation posture, a straight back, and a willingness to be honest with yourself. The best-known focus of mindfulness meditation is the breath; impartial observation of physical sensations is another common technique. Whenever you find your thoughts wandering, simply notice them without judgment, and bring your attention back to your breath. Mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. In addition, it fosters resilience, a timely quality that helps you cope with difficult situations without losing your peace of mind.
- Movement meditation - Many forms of meditation encourage you to remain in one position, but movement meditation focuses on the body in motion. Walking meditation is one form of mindful movement; this technique can also be associated with yoga or tai chi and other martial arts. Having a commitment to some form of physical discipline is very beneficial. Once you are able to be present in your body during movement meditation, you can expand your awareness to include just about anything that keeps you moving: gardening, walking the dog, washing up, playing golf, etc.
- Focused meditation - In this technique, the concentration is exclusively on whatever it is that one is doing: it is the exact opposite of multi-tasking.
- Visualization meditation - In this meditation technique, an image that creates a particular feeling or quality is brought to mind. In a simple way, a person can close our eyes and imagine a scenery or image, or any other visualization that speaks to them. In one well-known mindfulness exercise, one can imagine their thoughts and emotions as being leaves on a stream that the current gently sweeps downstream. This is said to give meditators distance from unwelcome mental activity and bring a sense of peace.
- Chanting meditation - Many spiritual paths, from Western religions to Buddhist and Hindu traditions, recommend chanting and mantra meditation. While chanting, the mind should be focused on the sound of the words and melody. Western traditions also encourage contemplation of meaning. In mantra meditation and other Eastern traditions, a repetitive sound, word, or phrase is used to clear the mind and allow our spiritual strengths to reveal themselves. Mantras are sometimes accompanied by a melody, but not always. “Om” is one common sound used in mantra meditation.
With a variety of approaches, we encourage you to consider how meditation can help you slow the pace of your life and create a stronger connection with yourself, FOR yourself.
This month, our co-founder Denise is embarking on a meditation challenge with our friends at Modern Meditation Club. This resource platform offers tools to help you develop a practice with meditation and create space for intentional spiritual healing, connection and depth. We hope you join her as she kicks off the year by making space and getting still.
In case it helps inspire you, here’s a song by Natalie Lauren that we love; it always helps quiets our minds:
To deep breaths, connectedness and a more mindful you, this year.