As a business owner, mom of two, wife, speaker, and consultant, managing each day effectively can be a challenge. I am sure I don't have to tell you. You know. My mind, like yours, is often filled with to-do lists, schedules, and responsibilities. It's easy to feel overwhelmed sometimes, but my secret to mental serenity in the face of a harried schedule is meditation.
If you are a meditation skeptic, please stay with me. You might be thinking you don't have time for one more thing. I understand. Fortunately, just a few minutes of meditation can be as powerful as an hour. When you experience all of the benefits of meditation, it will likely become a part of your life. Meditation has taught me to relax, clear my mind and has helped boost my productivity. It has made me happier as I practice focusing on the present moment, and has helped me become a better listener which is helpful in forming better connections with people at home and at work.
Here are seven steps to ease into meditation:
- Write it down. Chances are that you walk around every day with a list of to-do items in your head. One idea that helps me meditate is writing down my to-do lists before I begin to meditate. I write down everything that is on my mind, from small things (send mom a birthday card) to big things (work on a branding strategy for a client). I keep writing until I run out of things. It takes a few minutes but it does happen.
- Make an appointment with yourself. It's important to schedule the time for meditation. If you think you'll find time during the day it won't happen. I usually meditate first thing in the morning. Sometimes I only have 5 minutes other times I can find 30 minutes. Just try to be consistent. They don't call it a practice for nothing.
- Let go of preconceived notions about meditation. You don't have to be in the lotus position, sitting on a fancy cushion. You can sit in a chair and be comfortable. Ask your family to give you a few minutes without interruptions. Find a quiet and comfortable spot. If you want, you can light your favorite candle and listen to some music that relaxes you. Wear comfortable clothes. Don't put unrealistic expectations on yourself to achieve a perfectly serene mind.
- Pay attention to your breathing. Check to make sure you are comfortable, close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Once your breathing is slow and steady, visualize a ball of light around your body. Focus your full attention on the brilliance of this light. Notice if there are any colors, and notice how you feel. Bring your full attention to this experience. With each breath, release your shoulders and relax your body.
- Imagine yourself sitting in your favorite place in nature. You can visualize a place in your backyard or half way around the world. Notice as many details as you can. Bring your full attention to the experience. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention and focus back. Relax and enjoy. Stay with the visualization for as long as it feels wonderful and warm.
- When you are done, allow yourself a few minutes to transition. You can set an alarm, but I would say just follow your body's rhythm. You can stop when it feels like you are done. When you are feeling good, you won't want to stop. So just stop when you "feel" done. Gently move your fingers and toes to bring your attention back. Move your neck and slowly open your eyes. Just stay still for a minute to get your full attention to your body. Write down your experiences while they are fresh in your mind. You can write down one word that feels right to you, or you can write down your entire experience in as much detail as possible.
- Realize there is no right or wrong way to do meditation. I know this advice is counterintuitive and different than many of the things you have heard and read. In 10 years of leading meditations, I have learned that many people are intimidated by the idea of meditation. When I tell them "there is no right way or wrong way, there is only your way" they seem empowered to try.
Meditation has so many benefits and some day you may be able to sit in a lotus position on a fancy cushion for 30 minutes and meditate with complete clarity, until then, try my easy methods and notice the benefits firsthand.
Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, a digital publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. For online publicity, book publishing and social media news, follow Fauzia on Twitter: @FauziaBurke and Facebook. To talk with FSB and ask your book publicity questions, please join us on Facebook.