Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Deep, Introspective Breath: Meditation for Beginners

After finishing the second week of my junior year of college, I feel myself needing to take a deep, slow breath and collect myself. Finding a balance between spending time with my friends, attending all events for my sorority, and completing all my homework has been more of a challenge than I predicted for the year. Classes are harder and there are more and more opportunities for social situations, making it really hard to keep things in perspective and remind myself that I am, first and foremost, at college for an education.

Basically, I'm stressed, questioning my commitment to my major, worrying about what I'm going to do after college...

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Enter my new best friend: meditation. I've meditated before, in high school gym classes and a spirituality course I took last semester. But never have I actually gotten around to just meditating, just for myself, just because I needed to recenter my being. This is the first year I've been truly mindful of my mental and spiritual health, taking the time to heal myself through meditation.

Let me tell you, it feels great.

It helps that one of my best friends and housemates, Jules, is taking a class on the mind-body connection this year and has to meditate for homework, so I've been joining her for that. But more and more often I've been taking time to find some self-guided meditations on YouTube and just be mindful of my being for a few minutes.

It's helpful to have a starting point if you're meditating for the first time, so here are some tips that I've found helpful (thanks, Jules!) as I begin my meditation journey.

1. Turn the lights low - maybe light a candle or set the lamps in your room to a low level. No one can be relaxed under the harsh glare of fluorescent lightbulbs.

2. Get comfortable - sit on a yoga mat, folded towel, or blanket, if you'd like. Cross your legs pretzel-style, or put the bottoms of your feet together in butterfly pose. Let your hands cup or lace naturally; they'll usually settle in your lap or rest lightly on your feet.

3. Find a great guided meditation, if you're uncertain of exactly where to begin. These two videos are fantastic, especially as a beginner.

4. Focus on your breathing! It's so important. Mindfulness begins with you acknowledging the power of your breath, the way it fills your lungs and travels throughout your body. Don't worry about blocking out stressful thoughts; just start by thinking about how you breathe.

And that's all there is to it!

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