A guest post by Anne – Sophie Reinhardt
I grew up in a home where the scientific and matter-of-fact world view was the one most prevalent. My father, a general physician, and my mother, a pharmacist, were quite sceptic of everything that didn’t involve tangible matters and logic outcomes.
As nature goes, I adopted a lot of their beliefs at a young age and stuck with it for most of my life as a young adult. When I moved to a different country, went into treatment for a deathly eating disorder and exercise addiction, I was forced to build an entirely new mindset and spiritual world, one that came from a deep understanding of myself and my inner ongoings.
This is how I stumbled into my first yoga practice and instantly fell in love with the holistic approach of this wonderful form of exercise.
The more I learned about yoga, the more interested I became in expanding my mental capacity by adding a daily meditation to my life.
However, there was one major barrier I had to overcome: my stigma of those who meditate, who to me where people following a hype and trying to be cool and alternative. I knew that meditation is an ancient Asian practice, but for reasons beyond my comprehension I hesitated to let go of this preconceived opinion.
Yet as the ongoing recovery from anorexia ravaged my inner world, my heart was yearning for a daily session of awareness, grounding, self-appreciation and a space to just be, which is essentially what meditation is all about.
The Benefits of Meditation
- When I finally dived into the practice of letting go, it didn’t take long to see the amazing benefits of it.
- Meditation can unleash your inner strength.
- Meditation lets you breathe again on a level as deep as you’ve hardly experienced before.
- Meditation calms your nerves and allows the mind to have a genuine, loving conversation with itself giving your inner child a place to heal.
- Meditation opens you up to new ideas, new ways of experiencing life and gives you room to grow, transform and evolve.
- Meditation gives you the unique chance to discover the real you and lets you reconnect with your innermost values, thoughts and dreams.
- Meditation helps you reduce all the clutter, all the noise and all the unnecessary distractions from your busy lifestyle.
- But meditation also lets you forget about the daily troubles, the tormenting stream of thoughts and the physical constraints of your body.
- Meditation, if practiced regularly impacts every part of your life and empowers you to have a whole new approach to self-love, work and relationships.
- I couldn’t imagine my life without this wonderful practice anymore, which is why I am thrilled to share a few tips on how you can implement a daily meditation habit in your (no doubt very busy) life.
How to Get Started
At the studio I took yoga lessons, I noticed they also offered guided meditations. I went back and forth in my mind whether I should give one of those classes a try or venture out on my own adventure. I decided against joining a group because I felt deep down that the intimacy of being in such a vulnerable state was better done alone.
However, if you feel like you need some extra guidance in the beginning, then there are plenty of resources on- and offline that you can take advantage from.
The basics of both approaches to meditating are essentially the same, which is why I’ll focus on self-practice today.
Find Your Perfect Time
The most essential part of building a new habit is incorporating it regularly into your schedule. For me, the perfect time for self-reflection is right after I wake up. At this point my mind is still uncluttered with all the information that you’re bombarded with during the day and all the task you have to cross off your humongous to-do list.
A question I get asked quite often is how long one should meditate. My answer? As long as you’d like. The beautiful thing about meditation is that there is no right or wrong. Everybody experiences the time of being in the here and now differently. You can start with five minutes and work your way up to half an hour. Or you can stick to a 10-minute routine. Whatever suits you best, whatever your body tells you to do is the right thing for you.
The best place to practice meditation is somewhere you feel safe, comfortable and warm. Sit on a cushion and make it as cozy as comfortable in order to not have any distractive thoughts creep in your mind because your leg went numb or your buttocks hurt. Remember, this is all about you doing inner work. It’s not about competing with the old yogis who sat on the hard ground without moving for days. We don’t have to make it harder on us as it already is.
Having the right posture is important to not only let the energy flow through your body, but also to help you breathe more effectively and deeply. Put your hands on your lap or your knees and sit up straight. You’ll immediately notice a sense of empowerment as well as relaxation.
The most important part of this entire exercise is to breathe consciously. Not only does your focus on inhalation and exhalation keep your mind from all the distractive thoughts that are competing to occupy your mind, but it is an essential element in calming your nerves and oxidizing your brain.
The Meditating Itself
Now, while your sitting there in your living room, you bedroom or maybe even in your garden, what are you supposed to do?
Of course, you can give yourself special “assignments” like trying to find alternative ways to go about a project or trying to channel your energy in order to make it through an extremely busy day. But I find that especially at the beginning, the act of simply sitting there not trying to think of anything specific and instead focusing on your breathing is the most rewarding and nurturing way of self-reflection.
Be gentle with yourself and be very, very patient. Meditation takes practice and the results may not come over night. If you can’t shake certain thoughts, then accept them as they are. Invite them lovingly, without giving them the power to frustrate you.
Meditation is a powerful way of being in tune with your body, mind and spirit. It’s not a competition with yourself, but a way to a loving and caring relationship that will ultimately fulfill you with a peace you’ve never felt before. I know because I was able to get healthy with the help of this simple habit.
Have you any experience with meditation? Which benefits have you experienced in your life?
About the Author
Anne – Sophie Reinhardt is a world traveler, an anorexia survivor, a positive body image advocate, podcaster, blogger, digital entrepreneur, speaker, wive, lover of books, aspiring yogi and social media enthusiast. Her blogs My Intercontinental Life and Fighting Anorexia are focused on living a purposeful, free, healthy and passionate life.