Meditation is the stilling of the mind, a break from restless emotions and thoughts. If you’re like me and almost everyone I know, your mind rarely sits still. Instead, it runs a constant loop of to-do lists, reflections, plans, and worries. Because of this, we’re rarely ever truly here. Ram Dass, the American spiritual teacher, revolutionized this concept in the 1970s with his book, Be Here Now. He claimed that we’re always in the past or future but never actually in the present, and he led millions of people to sit in meditation to experience its powerful effects. Meditation allows us to become an observer of our thoughts and emotions instead of being ruled by them.
The easiest way to start a meditation practice is to use your breath. Find a quiet space where you can close your eyes and focus for 5 minutes. (It’s helpful to set a timer to make sure you don’t end earlier or go much longer than you anticipated. )
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath. You don’t have to do anything; this is simply a time to observe the breath. Focus only on your inhales and exhales for 5 minutes. Whenever your mind wanders away from the breath, bring your focus back to it. There is no right or wrong here. Do your best to continually draw your focus back to the breath and the moment.
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TWO Preparing for Yoga
Yoga requires dedication and a time commitment. To experience the amazing benefits of yoga, you’ll need to prioritize it in your schedule the best you can. Once you do that, choosing the time of day that fits your mood, getting the tools to do your practice, creating a space, and preparing your body for it are the next steps.
You Are Unique.
Your body is unique. None of us is created exactly the same. Men and women have different bone structures. You may be dealing with an injury, illness, or changes that come from aging. You may have tightness where everyone else seems to be flexible. This doesn’t mean you should limit your yoga practice. Instead, tailor your practice to more fully support your body’s needs.
You also have your own unique nature and personality. Adapting your practice to your mental state each day will help you reap the benefits. Certain postures are designed to calm and others to energize. When you come to the mat, check in with yourself. If you are stressed, you may want to do a practice that is calming. Or if you are sluggish, you may want to choose a practice that is energizing.
Adjusting Your Mind.
One of the best ways to get yourself ready for a fulfilling yoga practice is to change your mind-set. If you begin with the attitude that you’re too busy, too inflexible, or just don’t see the point, you’re going to have a difficult time incorporating yoga into your life.
Remember that yoga is not a task or goal or even a means of “self-improvement. ? It’s about being in the moment. Yoga isn’t meant to change you. Let go of any expectations about the outcome. Instead, approach it with an open mind and total acceptance of the now.
Once your mind is open and you feel ready, find a time to practice yoga every day. Traditionally, yogis practiced around sunrise or sunset because those were viewed as the most calm and serene times of day. Think about the calmest moments of your day. Is this when you first wake up? When the house is quiet in the late evening? When you usually have an afternoon lull? Try to commit to rolling out the mat at this time each day.
If you can’t fit in an hour-long practice every day, that’s OK. Seek out short chunks of time to sit and breathe throughout the day. These are tiny yoga moments, space to quiet your mind. Giving yourself even a small break from your daily routine is important.