Happy new year friends!! We officially made it through 2020 🥳
I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on this past year. There’s no question that 2020 was a very different year than we expected. But I am a big believer in looking for the positive, even in the worst of situations. Looking back, there are so many lessons and opportunities that I am incredibly grateful for. We adopted our puppy, Hector, back in May, I went back to school and completely changed careers, I incorporated my LLC and launched my dream coaching business, just to name a few. But I think one of the things that I am most grateful for was the opportunity to expand my mindfulness & meditation practice.
You would think that because I am a yoga teacher, meditation is something that automatically comes easy for me. However, my experience has been quite the opposite.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t have much of a regular meditation practice before COVID hit. It seemed like a waste of time – I had places to be, things to do, and I thought I was far too busy to take 10 minutes out of my day just to sit and be still. I was always on the run, even on my days off. I figured that practicing yoga was enough of a ‘moving meditation’ practice for me. Looking back, it makes sense now why I was experiencing such regular effects of burnout and stress.
However, my life literally did a 180 when the pandemic took over last March. I lost my job, my yoga studio was shut down, and my regular hustle lifestyle came to a screeching halt. At first, it seemed like the world was ending. But I soon realized that I had time to slow down my mornings and actually enjoy being in the present moment. I could wake up slowly, enjoy some coffee with my fiancé, cuddle with my animals and enjoy my day. I wasn’t running myself into the ground anymore. I could actually sit down, close my eyes, and tune inwards.
And then, something magical happened. I started feeling happier, lighter, and more present with my life than I have ever felt before. My mind started opening up to do the deep inner healing work that I hadn’t allowed myself to feel pre-pandemic. I created a daily meditation practice and it completely changed how I viewed the world and my life. It now is the most important part of my day, and I know it will continue to be that way, even when life returns to normal (hopefully this year!)
So, What Exactly is Mindful Meditation?
Mindful Meditation is the practice of clearing your mind and learning to observe your thoughts without judgment. It’s an opportunity to relax your body and bring your awareness inward. We are often so busy in our everyday lives that we don’t really live in the present moment. Our thoughts are frequently focused on what is coming up next, what’s on our to-do list, or even thoughts from the past which can lead to stress, burnout, and anxiety. Mindfulness is a tool that helps us stop the cycle and be in the moment. When you focus on what is happening right here and now, it can lead to joy, acceptance, and deep inner healing.
I know from experience that starting a mediation practice can sometimes be intimidating at first. If you are looking to start or get back into your practice this year, here are my top 5 tips to help you start and maintain a consistent mindful mediation practice:
Start with Small Time Intervals
The best way to begin a mediation practice is to start small. Even a 5-minute meditation in the morning or before bed can help you start to feel benefits and form a habit. In this time period, allow yourself to clear your mind, concentrate on your breath and just be in your body in the present moment. Once you start to feel more comfortable with this, you can begin to lengthen the amount of time you practice for.
Try Using Guided Meditations
Meditation may seem intimidating at first, but you don’t have to do it alone. One of the easiest ways to start meditating is with guided meditations. Whether you are looking for something to help you sleep, balance the effects of burnout or relieve stress and anxiety, there is something out there for everyone. It takes the guesswork out of meditating and allows you to focus on the guide, rather than spending your time wondering if you’re doing it right (guilty!)
Here are some of my guided meditations you can try from my YouTube channel:
Put It in Your Calendar
Like many things in life, if you don’t make time for it on your schedule, it will be easy to forget to practice. By adding meditation into your weekly schedule, it will help you make sure nothing else gets put ahead of or interferes with your sacred meditation time. Find a time that works best for you – either in the morning before your day begins, in the afternoon during your lunch break, or even in the evening before bed. It doesn’t matter when you meditate, just as long as it works for you at a time you will be able to actually enjoy it. If your schedule allows, try to plan your practice at the same times each day/week so it’s easier to form a habit.
Create a Comfortable Practice Space
Your meditation practice will be more successful if you have a comfortable and quiet place to practice. Try placing pillows or blankets in a corner of your room with a wall to help support your back. Maybe light candles or use sage to help this area smell good and create a calm aroma. Having a specific spot just for meditating can help you truly focus without getting distracted. Every time you come back to this spot, you will be able to feel more relaxed and focused on clearing your mind!
Know that mindfulness can look different for everyone
There is this misconception that practicing mindfulness is only sitting down cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed in this peaceful state of Zen. While this is absolutely one way to meditate, there are actually other ways to do it that are not as commonly shared. If traditional meditation is not your thing, try practicing mindfulness while walking, taking a shower, practicing yoga, driving, or running errands. That’s the cool thing about it, mindfulness can truly be practiced anywhere at any time! You don’t need to copy someone else’s practice or schedule in order to feel the effects of mindfulness and mediation. Find a way that works best for you and your unique needs that you will actually look forward to practicing every day!
Have you started a mediation practice yet? What helps keep your practice consistent? Let me know in the comments below!
Photos by Elena Cuellar
✨ If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness & meditation, click here to download my FREE Beginner’s Guide To Mindfulness!