With our society’s growing awareness of mental health, it’s important for people to take a look at meditation and the benefits from the exercise. There is scientific data that has proven how meditation can increasingly help regulate emotions and intrusive thoughts, making an individual more emotionally intelligent. Though the benefits sound amazing, not everyone can be excited about meditation and picture themselves sitting still for 10 minutes and just breathing. But, meditations are not just the practice of sitting cross-legged on the floor, closing your eyes and breathing. There are such an immense amount of ways that an individual can meditate and enjoy it.
Personally, I used to be a skeptic when it came to meditation. How can something so simple as sitting with your thoughts make such a big difference in mood and emotion regulation? It wasn’t until I personally went through a traumatic event until I finally gave meditating a chance. I was in a dark place and didn’t know how to escape. The first day of school of my sophomore year, my classmates and I walked into our AP World History classroom not knowing that the first couple of minutes of class we’d be meditating. My teacher stood in front of us with a set of Tibetan bell chimes and began to tell us to close our eyes and breathe as she struck the bells together. Naturally, the whole class began to giggle. It was so foreign to us! We entered the classroom expecting to already begin work but here we were meditating! As we’d inhale and exhale, our teacher read us a monologue. It was called the Soft Belly Breathing meditation. It was the first time I was properly introduced to the world of mindfulness.
A couple of weeks after the start of school, my AP World teacher began to sponsor a club where students could join and learn different meditation techniques to help with anxiety and depression. A couple of friends and I joined the club instantly. Every week we would meet in the tiny staff room that contained couches. The walls were wrapped in a beach wallpaper that gave the room a soothing feel. My teacher offered us snacks and a safe place to vent and say what was on our minds that week. Every week we’d learn a new meditation technique to try out. At times my teacher would put on some music and we’d close our eyes and dance to “shake” off emotions. Another time, we would close our eyes and she’d tell us go to our happy place, real or imaginative, where we felt the calmest and safest. The next session we’d practice mindful eating where we’d eat bananas covered in Nutella and focus on the taste of our food instead of devouring it.
After all this time, I thought you had to sit still and breathe in order to meditate, but there are so many different techniques and practices to choose from. Meditation is not a one size fits all, you have to find what meditation you like and works for you. After my journey of being in the club, I took those techniques and utilized them during quarantine my junior year of high school. I found that the meditations that worked best for me were guided meditations that I was able to find online.
Guided meditations help you to not stray away with your thoughts, but to keep you grounded and observant of your thoughts. One of the resources that I really like to utilize is the Headspace Guide to Meditation series on Netflix. Every episode focuses on a different meditation, whether you want to meditate to deal with stress, deal with pain or anger, let go of something, etc. The episodes are informative, concise and are a great way to begin a journey in meditation. And if the series is not your cup of tea, don’t be discouraged! There are plenty of podcasts and YouTube videos online that you can try out.
When it comes to meditation, it’s all about finding the perfect meditation that fits you. And of course, you won’t be an expert overnight. Just like playing an instrument or a sport, it takes good practice in order to get the best results when meditating. Even ten minutes a day for a month can drastically improve your mood. It takes time and willpower in order to reap the best out of this ancient practice. Keep this in mind and I wish you a happy meditation!