Life is freaking nuts. It’s messy and loud and complicated. It’s wonderful, too, but even the good stuff can add on to the ever-growing pile of stress. Apparently meditation helps, but who has the time? Who has the flexibility to sit cross-legged on a mountain as part of some transcendental workshop?
I’ve recently learned that for a literal peace of mind, we all have the time. And flexibility or fancy workshops aren’t required; you can just sit in a chair. I talked to a handful of people (normal, everyday people who needed to find a way to chill) about meditation: the do’s, the don’ts, and the how-the-hell-do-I-even-begin-because-this-shit-is-scary.
As for the why: You’ll sleep better. Your memory will improve. The little things won’t affect you as much. You may start to feel — dare I say it? — less stressed. Maybe we can do this together. No better place to start than right here.
Melissa Lau, founder of Seachange Coaching, on how to get started:
“Pick a tiny commitment. I’m a fan of Stanford Professor BJ Fogg who studies habit formation. His research shows that the core to habit formation is committing to something so small that you can’t say no: if your goal is to exercise more, your tiny commitment might be to commit to putting on your sneakers every day, regardless of whether you actually go to the gym.
Thing is, once you have those shoes on, the probability that you do go to the gym increases substantially. It’s the same with meditation. Rather than aim to sit for 20 minutes out of the gate, commit to just sitting in your chosen meditation chair once a day, even if you don’t meditate. But if you do sit down, it’s pretty likely that you’ll start to meditate.
Find an accountability buddy — it’ll make it much easier to stick with the practice.
Find a comfortable sitting position that works for you. Just start by sitting in a chair! (No need to wrap yourself up like a pretzel.)
Finally, experiment with different techniques to figure out what works for you.”
Don’t move. Don’t judge your thoughts. Set a timer and commit to sitting in a comfortable, quiet place for at least two minutes. Pay attention to your breath and the way your body feels.
My meditation practice varies depending on where I am in my life and what my schedule is like. When I first started dating my husband it was really awkward at night to be like, ‘excuse me while I sit cross-legged on the floor and om and channel my higher self,’ so for a few months the whole practice took a backseat. Now that I have two kids, I meditate wherever/whenever I can find the time. Every morning on the L train for example — no joke. Or in my bedroom for a few minutes after I put my daughters to sleep.”
Sophie Milrom, founder of Eat Pops: “The biggest don’t is don’t skip. My meditation teacher told me that the only wrong meditation is one that you don’t do. Sometimes I need to scratch my head or open my eyes in the middle, and that’s ok. To me, it’s about decompressing.
Most people don’t realize that they already have some sort of meditative experience. I’ve personally found that showering and cooking are very meditative. A formal practice just ensures that you are giving yourself the right dose of that sensation every day.”
I meditate in the morning to set the intention of my day. It’s helped me find find balance. We are inundated with external forces, and through meditation you’re able to remove yourself from the onslaught of life. What you wear, what clubs you belong to or how many followers you have seem to disappear, and it is you sitting in the power which exists within you.”
Lara Speier, creative strategist and prior New York Closets contestant: “I practice Vedic meditation — it’s similar to every other kind; specifically, it’s mantra-based — and what I like about it is that you’re not forced to ignore all your thoughts. You can welcome them, have them and then leave them. If someone interrupts your meditation, it’s okay, just return to your mantra.
Anyone can start meditating by carving time to be quiet with yourself and not focused or distracted by anything. You can even give yourself a mantra to repeat in your head — just pick an onomatopoeia.
If you think you don’t need to meditate, you probably do. If you think it doesn’t work, then you probably have to keep doing it. And if you think it’s too hard, then you probably need it the most.”
Want to get your shit together when it comes to health and eating, too? Check out what the Sakara girls told Leandra.