Mindfulness - Meditation - Stress Reduction
One of the most common responses in our 6 Week Survey from you all was around Mindfulness, Meditation & Stress Reduction and it is an extremely important area of our lives.
Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment, on purpose and without judgment and has gotten many people interested in giving it a try. The big challenge for most has been how to sustain their practice past the initial attempt.
Mindfulness has so many benefits that are also well-backed scientifically and there are many studies that prove that it can make our lives better.
Meditation is one of the many practices that increase mindfulness and hopefully with our 6 Week Challenge we are going to make it easier to include each day.
Adding Meditation to Your Daily Chain
With adding this new meditation habit on top of the 5 minutes of exercise each day, we must stick to the same format that we have gone with so far.
"Easy, Simple, and almost Impossible to not do."
Now to be honest, we could probably make these habits even easier and cut them from 5 minutes to two minutes, but I'm hoping that 5 minutes is still an achievable task for you all.
- If you do 60 minutes each day on top of your 5 min Habit Goal - Congratulations - Great Job!!!
- If you do 20 minutes each day on top of your 5 min Habit Goal - Congratulations - Great Job!!!
- If you do the 5 minutes each day of your 5 min Habit Goal - Congratulations - Great Job!!!
Whether you manage 5 minutes or 60 minutes, you should be celebrating and are doing an awesome job in 'Mastering The Habit of Showing Up'.
Getting Started with Meditation
Before I list off a few meditation options and techniques you can try to find what works for you, I'd like to give you some of my own experiences with meditation.
Meditation is one habit I've struggled for years to try and build. I've tried many times and failed.
You always hear about it in interviews or read the research on how important it can be but I've never been able to do it properly. And I think one of the main reasons is because I held a common misconception: I always believed meditation was supposed to be relaxing. But I really don't believe that this is the way to think about the process of it.
When I imagine someone, who was 'good at meditation' it was someone who was relaxed, calm, present, focused. Whenever I tried to meditate, I assumed I should feel relaxed, calm, present, focused. But these are simply the results of meditation, not the process of meditating, and especially hard to do when I first started.
When I first tried meditating on my own, I closed my eyes and waited for something to happen. Of course, nothing happened and my mind was as busy as ever. I was always easily distracted by the sounds around me, or would have my mind wander off to work issues or things I needed to be doing, and thought I just wasn't doing it right or it wasn't for me.
I would sit in silence and set my timer for these 5 minutes, close my eyes, and would rarely last the 5 minutes without opening my eyes to check how long I had left to go.
Now after a few months of practicing I'm beginning to realize that the mind wandering off is actually an essential part of the process of meditating. Even when I am trying to pay close attention to my breath I still get distracted by other sensations, but as they pass, I simply return my attention to the breathing.
I'm no longer just trying to sit in silence and have tried instead to use guided meditation. I am using Waking Up with Sam Harris App and the current guided mediation practise helps me train my ability to notice sights, sounds, sensations and thoughts as they appear in my consciousness.
Finding a meditation technique that works for you
If something doesn't work for you, don't stress it out! There are so many techniques that you can try and you'll find one that works for you.
There are many ways to build your practice. If you’re feeling stuck, try a new approach.
I also want to remind you that I know very little about meditation and am actively trying to include this myself to my daily habits too.
I’m in the beginning stages of meditation with a very very basic level of knowledge of the practice
Mindfulness with Breathing / Focused Attention
This form of meditation is fairly straightforward because it uses the object of your breath to focus attention, to anchor the mind and maintain awareness. Notice your mind starting to wander? Simply return to the breath.
Body Scan Meditation
This is supposedly great for beginners. Focus your attention on different parts of your body from your head to your feet, notice how they feel and release any tension. Often, our body is doing one thing while our mind is elsewhere. This technique is designed to sync body and mind by performing a mental scan, from the top of the head to the end of your toes.
Think of a mantra — a word or phrase you repeat during meditation — as a tool to help release your mind. Since it helps you stay focused, it could lead to improved results from meditation. You repeat it over and over in your head, often timing it with your breathing. An example they give is "Let Go", but you can pick anything that resonates with you.
Count Your Breaths
Breath counting is an easy variant of the mantra meditation technique. Count every time you exhale, and when you reach 10, start over at 1 on the next exhale.
Use An App or Guided Audio Track (I Highly Recommend)
There are so many apps that all take a different approach with their meditation style, narration, app design, and more.
Later this week I will be providing a quick overview and rundown of which you may want to try. Some of the best meditation apps out there are designed specifically for beginners and can then progress users into more advanced meditators.
The upcoming overview will list the top Meditation Apps that can be found in the iOS or Google Play Store. The list will include apps like Waking Up, Headspace, Ten Percent Happier, Insight Timer, Smiling Mind & Calm.
I have recently started using Waking Up with Sam Harris and think it is fantastic, but I would love to know what you find works as well.
Bonus Suggestion... Watch Netflix Documentary
If you are still unsure where to start, even watch the short doco series on Netflix - Headspace Guide To Meditation.
Now this is harder to do because it is longer than our 5 minutes but it is always an option if you also want to learn more about how to practice.
The 8-episode Netflix series shows how meditation can help in your daily life. From tackling stress to embracing gratitude, each episode first teaches the basics and techniques of the practice, and then concludes the episode with a guided meditation. Push play, close your eyes, and explore the many benefits of meditation.
Watch the trailer below...
Start Your Daily 5 Minutes - Suggestions
Let's not over complicate it though. Here is a short list of things you could try, otherwise sitting outside for 5 minutes with your eyes shut can get you started too.
I look forward to checking in with you soon, to find out how you are incorporating Mindfulness into your daily life.
- Waking Up with Sam Harris - https://wakingup.com/
- Smiling Mind Free App - https://www.smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app
- Insight Timer - https://insighttimer.com/
- Breathwork Meditation - https://youtu.be/mypdGeuWcD0
- Let go & receive by Gabby Berstein - https://youtu.be/lSH9we0qKlk
- Positive Affirmation by Gabby Berstein - https://youtu.be/9FPcItDvjMQ
- 5 Minute Meditation you can do anywhere - https://youtu.be/inpok4MKVLM
- Spotify - guided meditation playlist https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWVS1recTqXhf
Head Coach / Ex.Sci
Russell is the Managing Director and Head Coach at Moonee Valley Health and Fitness.
In 2008 he graduated with a Bachelor of Exercise Science and Human Movement at Victoria University and has been a personal trainer since 2004 and is a passionate and focused health and fitness professional.
Having worked in the health and fitness industry for over 16 years, he is a highly qualified expert in Weight Loss, Strength & Conditioning and Workplace Wellness programs.