I feel edgy, unsettled and a bit anxious. Between navigating several big life transitions, a move to a new home and some unexpected changes in my business–I’m not feeling too grounded. So rather than slide into my typical MO of over-doing, fixing or solving, I’m stopping in my tracks this morning and embracing renowned meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein’s advice: “Don’t just do something, sit there.”
Besides joyful movement and hikes in nature, the daily ritual that most helps me quiet my mind, release stress and lessen my need to control my circumstances is a 20-minute morning meditation.
For years I fought the idea of a morning ritual, of creating dedicated time every day to steep in stillness before entering the world. I had read the brain research on the benefits of meditation, but I rationalized: “It’s too hard when you’re a parent.” “I’m too busy.” “I’ll do it later in the day.” “I would, but my partner won’t join me.” “I don’t have the right space.” “I need a new meditation cushion.” And so on. I worked hard to justify my reluctance, always wondering, “Does it really make a difference?” Today, it seems crazy that I needlessly postponed what I now consider the single most important part of my day. (Curious and live in NC? Join me Sept. 12 for a new in-person meditation workshop!)
Brain researchers share that devoting as little as five minutes every morning to your inner world can set a positive course for your entire day.
This wisdom really spoke to me. Being grateful every morning for five minutes? I could do that. Here are five tips that may help you jump-start a meditation practice:
- Schedule meditation for the same time each day. It works best to meditate early in the morning when our minds are most quiet and clear. If you’re not an early-morning person, do it later in the day: take a mid-morning nature break or wait until after the kids have gone to bed at night.
- Identify where you’ll pause for your practice. Find or create a space in your home that elicits peace, healing and self- nurturance. Know that you can go there at any time and use this as a regular meditation place. Maybe it’s a special reading chair or a spot in the backyard under your favorite tree. Or if having a spot at home isn’t feasible, identify a quiet parking lot or a nearby green space next to your office where you can park and be alone. Get creative!
- Tap a source of comfort and inspiration. To focus their intention and set the tone for the day, many like to read and meditate on an inspirational text or phrase before or at the end of their meditation. Some utilize a spiritual teaching, the Bible, a favorite book or poem or an inspiring daily online message.
- Remember to breathe. Sometimes when we meditate, our agitation and anxieties fill our heads with thoughts and to-do lists. When this happens, don’t forget to breathe! Breathing detoxifies, energizes, changes our mood and biochemistry, wakes up the brain, and helps us feel more present and calm. One technique I use when I meditate is to breathe in very slowly for a count of three, hold for three and exhale for three — all through the nose with the mouth closed. Keeping your eyes closed while breathing also helps focus your awareness inward. Some people like to choose a word to help them stay focused on their breathing.
- Ritualize your morning meditation time. Establish a simple ritual or routine for your morning meditation, which provides a rhythm and structure. For example, you might first light a candle, close your eyes, and rest in stillness. If you like, you could then read a short inspirational text, and close by reflecting on what you’re grateful for or setting an intention for the day. You might ask for guidance on an issue or help releasing feelings that have been bothering you. Choose a rhythm and flow that works for you. You can find more tips and guidance on daily meditations practices in my book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Find Peace & Harmony in Everyday Life.
Above all, release “shoulds” or “have tos.” There is no right or wrong way to do this. Keep it simple, maintain a sense of humor and — above all — make it personally meaningful. Bhavani, wonderful meditation teacher I love at Kripalu says, “How do you know when you’ve had a successful meditation? It’s over.” Don’t worry about the results. Just creating the space for stillness and accepting whatever unfolds is enough. Every time you come to your cushion will be different. Allow yourself to experience what it’s like to be fully present and comfortable sitting in silence. And be easy on yourself. If this is new, even just starting with five minutes of quiet before you begin your day is huge!
Lastly, give this time. You may not experience immediate or consistent results, but you still receive tremendous benefit from regular practice. Even on the days when my thoughts are ricocheting around like exploding popcorn, I still feel better after I meditate than I did before. A wise mentor once said to me, “Want to experience a little bit of peace? Meditate once a week. Want to experience a lot of peace? Meditate every day.” For a growing number of us, meditation is the secret weapon for maintaining our sanity!
WANT SUPPORT FOR FINDING YOUR CENTER? HERE ARE THREE OPPORTUNITIES:
- Sept. 12 ~ 6:30-8:30 p.m. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: A Meditation Workshop (in-person, Brevard, NC just south of Asheville). Inspired by ideas from Dr. Joe Dispenza’s best-selling book, this illuminating, experiential evening workshop is open to men/women of all ages. Ongoing fall groups may evolve from this workshop. Learn more.
- Oct. 14-16 ~ Awakening Your Wild Soul: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (this one sells out FAST; I’ll also be here Jan. 27-29)! Learn more. P.S. If you live in Western NC, join me for Wild Souls Nature Adventures. Or have me design a custom Wild Souls Blue-Ridge Mountain nature-based adventure for your team or friends Read more and sign up to get notices!
- Sept. 13-18 ~ Join us for SummitPalooza, an extraordinary online event with illuminaries teachers Renee Trudeau, Dr. Dan Siegel, Marianne Williamson, Dr. Rick Hanson, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg and others. Spend six days with 38 wisdom-holders and transformational teachers and learn about meditation, compassion, self-care, healing trauma, building resilience and more. Register now for FREE.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, Renee has been facilitating high-impact interactive workshops for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits/conferences and organizations worldwide for 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups based on her pioneering self-care curriculum. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in Western North Carolina and Austin, Texas; her latest venture is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.