What is your first reaction when you hear the word meditation? What images and ideas do you associate with meditating?
Everyone will have a different reaction, but it seems that those who practice mediation have a positive reaction and those that have never practiced (or tried once and couldn’t quite ‘get it’), have a negative one.
There are many misconceptions about meditation and amongst the most common are that it doesn’t work (usually because the person finds their mind constantly wandering when trying to meditate) or it is a waste time/it takes up too much time.
The people that are the busiest like my fellow business owners and entrepreneurs, are often the people that have these misconceptions, particularly the ‘lack of time’ one, but ironically it is the busiest people that need meditation the most to ensure they remain productive, balanced and positive and prevent them from burning out.
As well as the few mentioned above, they are many health benefits of meditation including reducing blood pressure, anxiety, and stress and decreasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Meditating regularly can also increase you creativity and productivity. Someresearch has also found that meditating can ‘re-map’ the brain so it is more rational and less emotional. When faced with a decision, meditators showed increased activity in the posterior insula of the brain, which has been linked to rational decision-making. This means they make decisions based more on fact than emotion.
So now you know why you need to meditate, its time to talk about how to do it and how to fit it in your busy daily schedule. Many people assume they need to do extensive classes, study yogis and read books to learn to meditate, and furthermore they mistakenly think they need to set aside at least an hour a day to do so- wrong!
All you need to do it set aside 2-5 minutes a couple of times a day (you can decide how many times, depending on how you’re feeling on that particular day). I would suggest that you make one of these 2-5 minute blocks a set time everyday, for example, make it part of your morning routine every day (meditating while in the shower is a great option, because your body is already relaxed). Better yet, incorporate it into your morning routine and while you lay in bed just before you fall asleep at night.
How to meditate – Option 1 – Basic Breath Cycles
There really is no set ‘correct’ way to meditate, but here are some steps to a basic meditation method we find works well for busy people that have never really meditated before:
1. Choose a quiet place to sit/lay in a comfortable position, where you won’t be interrupted for a few minutes.
2. Try and keep your palms open and facing upwards. Close your eyes gently. Make sure you are not tensing your hands, shoulders or jaw. Let go of any tension in your body.
3. Focus on just your breath and nothing else. Become aware of your breath and notice is it shallow or deep? Are you holding your breath in or your stomach in? Or hunching your shoulders?
4. With your eyes still closed, palms up and open and no tension in your body, take a deep breath in through your nose, and be aware of you stomach rising, until you can’t breathe in any more air and then release.
5. Now you begin your breath cycles. Breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds, hold the breath for 3 seconds and then breathe out slowly through your mouth for 3 seconds (so each breath cycle is 9 seconds).
6. When breathing out remember that it needs to be controlled, don’t just let all the air rush out.
7. Repeat this for at least 15 breaths. The goal is to keep your mind focused solely on your breathing and on your body. It is much easier said than done, and requires patience and practice. If your mind starts to wander back to work or family matters or what you have in your upcoming calendar, gently come back to the breath and on your counting.
How to meditate – Option 2 – Blue Paint Brush
We find this option works well for people that already meditate regularly and are able to keep focused on their breathing for the entire 2-5 minute breath cycle. Please note, you need to lie flat on your back for this option.
1. Follow all the steps in option 1 until you reach a deep state of calm and controlled breathing.
2. Imagine a paintbrush with warm blue paint is painting parts of your body, starting with your little toe. The warm paint is painting over all of your toes, one by one, and then your foot, finally making its way up your ankle, calf, knee etc.
3. Imagine that as the paint covers parts of your body, those parts become instantly very heavy as if they are sinking into the ground.
4. Imagine the paintbrush working its way slowly up your body and finally to your face, ears and skull. As each part is covered, release all the tension.
5. Once your entire body is ‘painted’ do one more breath cycle before slowly getting up. Meditation can seem daunting in the beginning, and can seem too difficult to master but also keep in mind that by practicing regularly you will train yourself to be more and more relaxed, and increasingly calm and focused – traits that every successful business owner and entrepreneur need!