Guest Post: How to and Why to Meditate with Marin Turner
Welcome to a Guest Blog by Marin Turner or Mad Wellness. She is a wellness coach and lifestyle motivator who is showing us why meditation is good for everyone, as well as simple steps on how to mediate for beginners. You can learn more about her on her website MAD Wellness .
My journey with meditation started just like most everyone else. I was tired of trying everything to calm myself and feel better, but nothing was working. So, I thought… Hell! I guess I’ll give it a shot. Super committed to the process, right? Um, no! That came later.
I tried everything that I could find online to start meditating. I downloaded apps and turned on YouTube videos. I would listen to meditation podcasts hoping that I would be able to “still” my mind or clear it of all thoughts. But I would get about 30 seconds into the program and I would be thinking about a doctor’s appointment that I need to book for my daughter and trying to figure out what we were having for dinner. Not on purpose mind you — I really wanted this stuff to work. I had read so much about how this group and that group had done a study and mindfulness meditation had been proven to help with pain, anxiety, and depression. But I just couldn’t get my mind to shut up. Then, of course, I would end up feeling like I failed. Sound familiar?
Here’s the thing… You will never shut your mind up. The human brain thinks somewhere between 50,000-70,000 thoughts each day. In a typical meditation session of 20-30 minutes, that’s close to 1260 thoughts. And let me tell you, your brain is stronger than you think. Try and silence her, she’ll just think louder.
I went back into research mode cause damn it, I was gonna get this right! What I figured out is that the thoughts and sensations that we experience are neither good nor bad. They are not to be judged. The important thing is that they are to be experienced, acknowledged, accepted, and then released. Released is the main thing to note here. It can be very easy to bring up a feeling and then just dwell on it. How many of us stand in the shower thinking about all the things that we should have said to “Carla” during that argument last week? Think about the way that your body feels when you are doing this. Those are not the sensations that we are aiming for today. And no, there is no guerilla warfare version of meditation. We can’t just tackle it head-on. This is a process that is practiced with gentleness.
Now for the cool part. Some of those studies I read showed that by using this technique, subjects have been able to self-regulate the pain responses that can be associated with chronic illness and injuries. See, the mind is strong. While engaging in activities that normally cause discomfort, simply breathing and acknowledging the sensation (like you would a thought) and releasing it can enable you to use less energy and leave more for life. I know that we could all use a little less energy focused on discomfort and more on the fun.
I am so excited to be able to share this with you. I am a woman living with more than 3 separate chronic illnesses. Through my own mindfulness practice, I have been able to continue working a job in which I must stand on my feet for almost 8 hours per day and manage my own business on the side, while still having the energy to take care of my physical fitness and enjoy time with family and friends You may be wondering how to start incorporating this into your life. Well, I recommend starting at the start…
How to meditate
1. Find a place to meditate
I want you to find a quiet place to be. When you are more advanced, you will be able to meditate almost anywhere and tune out the noises, but for now, let’s minimize the distractions. I recommend sitting unless you are physically unable to sit up. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting in a chair or on the floor, in fact, you may find it helpful in the beginning to sit somewhere that you have support for your back. Again, we are trying to minimize the distractions and sensations that you must work with, so back support may be beneficial.
2. Find uninterrupted time to meditate
Take a few moments to make sure that you will not be bothered for at least 10 minutes. At first, you may only be able to get through 5 minutes before your monkey mindfully takes over but hold the space for yourself in case you find that you are able to go longer. This is a quick and easy type of meditation that can be done just about anywhere.
3. Find your mantra
Now it’s time for the mantra. I am sure that you have seen yogis repeating “om mani padme hum” like a drone. This is used to focus the person on the breathing and keep them centered when the mind tries to wander.
You are welcome to use this mantra or the simpler “Om”, but I tend to favor one that is more in line with my desired outcome. This way, I can come back to it when I experience stress that needs to be addressed quickly. There have been many times when walking through the grocery store I was struck by a pain and had to stop.
Using this method almost always gets me back to myself in a matter of moments because my mind now knows the pattern of “say it, hear it, feel it.”
4. Simple relief mantra
Let’s start with a simple relief mantra: I acknowledge my pain/stress/anger/sadness and I release it. Starting in your same sitting position, as you relax, say the mantra out loud 3 times slowly… “I acknowledge my ___ and I release it, I acknowledge my ___ and I release it, I acknowledge my ___ and I release it.” Feel the words leaving your mouth and the tension releasing.
Take three to five long deep breaths to show your body that you are ready to start. Beginning at your head, feel how the emotion or feeling effects this part of you. State your mantra a few times, until you feel release. Move to your neck, shoulders, and so on acknowledging each part as you pass through it and letting it go to the universe. Continue moving down the rest of your body until you reach your feet. Give your feet a little squeeze and wiggle your toes. As you do, realize that your body has let go of all the individual sensations and is now ready to come around. Taking one last deep breath, open your eyes and return to full wakefulness
Meditation can be used to help with everything from a problem that you are looking for a solution to, anxiety, increasing concentration, communing with your higher power, to pain management as I have shown here. I encourage you to explore your practice and incorporate it further into your life. The more you do it, the easier it will become and the more relief you will feel throughout your life.
I hope that you can build your own mindfulness practice and use it as the basis for gaining a greater sense of balance in your life.
By Marin Turner
Thank you for joining us with Marin Turner of Mad Wellness and learning about meditation. Want to go deeper? She’s offering a FREE mindfulness guide: http://www.madmeditation.com/ and if you like this, leave a comment below. Do you already meditate? How did you get started? Are you interested in learning more about meditation? Let me know!