I work with many clients who are overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, depressed related to their personal life and/or professional life. As their clinical therapist, I help clients better understand possible reasons/triggers why they are feeling this way and then possible coping strategies to help manage their symptoms. One thing I often recommend to clients as a coping mechanism is meditation because it can reduce anxiety and increase clarity which can promote overall happiness. Many clients are open to the idea of meditation, but are unsure on exactly how to meditate.
I recently read an article from The New York Times called “How to Meditate” by author David Gelles. Below describes Gelles’s key points on how to meditate.
- The foundations. When starting the practice of meditation, it is important to build it into your daily routines. Maybe this means right after your breakfast and before you leave for work in a quiet and cozy place in your home. Whatever it is that can allow yourself to fully be engaged in the present moment. Start with maybe a minute and build yourself up to more minutes overtime, even a few minutes each day can make a significant impact on your mind and body. It is also important to be consistent as you may not notice a difference until you do it for 10 consecutive days. It is also important to practice being present throughout your entire day, not just in the few minutes on your comfy couch. Meditating isn’t about letting your thoughts wander nor is it about eliminating your thoughts, it is about simply being present with yourself; whatever thoughts, feelings, and sensations you may be feeling mentally and physically. It can also be helpful when starting out to have an app that provides guided meditations, somewhat like a coach, guiding you to reflect on a certain topic, such as self compassion or gratitude. The meditation guider can also assist in bringing you back into the present moment.
- What do I do if my mind wanders? It’s okay and completely normal! When you do notice your mind wandering, simply acknowledge, accept, and do not judge yourself for your wandering mind as it is inevitable. Attempt to notice what thoughts or sensations or distractions are and then take a pause. After acknowledging the thought/distraction, let it go, and then reopen your attention to your breaths through the inhalations and exhalations into the present moment. Your mind will likely wander again, and that’s okay, but what isn’t okay, is judging and being mean to yourself regarding your wandering mind.
- Mindfulness meditations. Anyone can practice mindfulness mediations anywhere and anytime; however, for someone who is a beginner, it might be best to start with an app that provides guided meditations. There are a ton of apps that are free in which you can decide the amount of minutes along with the topic you want to focus on for the day. Even if it is just for 1 minute, it can make a difference! The article linked in this blog posts also provides 4 different guided meditations in which you can download for whenever you feel ready to start your meditation journey.
- Scan your body. Some people prefer to focus their meditations through body scanning methods as opposed to focusing on their breath. The article linked in this blog post also provides a body scan meditation that you can download. It is encouraged to start at your head and go all of the way down to your toes. Through body scanning methods, you are to focus on noticing the different sensations you feel for each part of your body.
While there are different types of meditating, find what works best for you. Some people even enjoy coupling some lavender essential oils with their mediations. Keep in mind only you know what works best for you!
If you are currently struggling with anxiety and/or depression, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.