How to Start Meditating in the Real World
Meditation may seem like some sort of new age bogus, trust me I thought the same thing until I started practicing it myself. Yes, I said practice. Just like exercise it can take a lot of effort to sit in silence or in the middle of chaos with a meditative mind. Now I am no professional as I myself am still learning but I thought I'd share some practical advice on the steps I've taken towards introducing meditation into my life.
A Quiet Space
One of the more obvious situations to mediate in is a quiet space, this is usually in your room with soft music, guided videos or white noise. In my opinion you don't need some specific pose or certain kind of music to practice mediation, just a clear mind. This beginning step can start with a few breaths, nothing drastic, as forcing your breath can take away from the calmness in your mind. You can take this meditation into your bed before you sleep, sitting at your dining room table or in a warm bath (don't fall asleep!). Start off with a small amount of time like 5 minutes and move up in increments of 5 as you feel your meditation success is improving. Remember not to judge your thoughts if you wander but simply pull your mind back and let the thoughts disappear. This kind of meditation comes with many benefits. Check out Headspace’ post on the benefits of meditation here!
In the Public
Step two in mediation is to take your skills into public. I'm a believer that while meditation in any form is useful, if you can't take it into your everyday life of the modern world then what is the practicality? You can advance into this step at any point when you feel ready. Try sitting in a park or a few minutes on a bus ride. You will notice in these situations your mind will wander more and want to overly focus on sounds and potential hazards around you. While it is best to stay safe, rarely ever is there that immediate of a hazard that you need to hone in on anything in particular as a potential threat. Instead use this honing in on staying focused. In public situations I pick a real life object (something as simple as a metal piece on a bus or flower in the park), sound or something in my minds eye that is simple to focus on to help keep my mind from wandering off into the world. Headphones with soft music or guided meditations are great in these situations as well.
High Stress Situations
The massive test of meditation skills is carrying meditation not just into calmer public situations but also into high stress where they are most useful! For me this was working on floral arrangements at a flower shop during Valentines Day! If you are a florist or have ever been around the industry during this time you know the chaos a floral shop brings during Valentine’s Day and Mother's Day. Part of meditation is staying in the ‘here and now’ and for me during a day of endless orders and co-workers shouting and running around was important to keep my anxiety low. Using my meditative practices I was able to focus solely on my arranging process and use my practice and activity to stay in the here and now of my activity and not be absorbed into the madness around me. Try it! This is a true test of your meditation skills. Once you can pull these skills into stressful situations you will get some of the best use out of mediation.
Your meditation practice is all up to you and can be whatever you would like it to be. If you want to keep it at ten minute intervals in the morning before a stressful day you can do exactly that. Don't ever feel stressed about meeting someone else's standards even in meditation/yoga classes as this defeats the non-judgmental and calming qualities meditation is supposed to entail.
If you prefer guided meditations in the beginning to keep your mind focused Awake & Mindful can provide you a handful of videos to start you on your journey!