Meditation: contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to involve gongs or chanting “om.”
… because Namaste is nama-not for everyone.
I personally love yoga, myself – hot yoga, specifically. It’s the only workout that gets me away from my phone and forces me to breathe. When I’m away from distractions and focusing on the present, that’s meditation. Yoga is just one example of meditating, though. Here’s a simpler, easier, and less crazy way to bring our minds to the present moment:
Breath in a Square
To calm your brain and ease your mind, try this breathing method. It’s a four step process: breathe in, hold, breath out, hold. We’ll do the same count for each step. So, if you breath in for 5 counts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), you’ll hold your breath for 5 counts, breath out for 5 counts, and hold your breath again for 5 counts.
I find that it’s easiest to remember something when I can pair it with an image in my head. For this breathing method, try imagining that you’re drawing a square.
1) Breath in: Imagine drawing the right side of the square. Draw a vertical line from bottom to top. Since we’re taking breath in, imagine your lungs filling up as your line goes upward.
2) Hold: Starting at the top of the verticle line you’ve created, draw the top line of the box from left to right.
3) Breathe Out: Making the top right corner, draw a verticle line starting from the top and bringing it down to the bottom.
4) Hold: Complete the square by drawing a horizontal line from right to left. It’s a weird feeling to hold your breath after exhaling – we’re so used to taking a huge gulp of air before holding our breath. Drawing the bottom of the square helps me to envision this weird feeling of holding your breath after breathing out.
5) Repeat! You can do this trick once through, or several times – the key is to bring your mind to focus on your breath.
Practice Makes Perfect
When you’re focusing on your breath, you’re not worrying or ruminating or stewing. You’re allowing your body to re-calibrate itself. I personally find it most helpful when I’m in a stressful situation where I’m either about to yell or about to cry – that’s when I know I need to take a step back, remove myself from the situation, and re-center myself. Then, I can come back with a logical head, and not do something rash. To get your body used to going to this method in stressful states, though, be sure to practice in everyday situations – on your morning commute, at work, during class, while you’re doing a non-yoga workout. When you practice, it will become second nature for your body to use this trick when you get overwhelmed.