A Stress-Free Guide to Meditating, According to a Therapist

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In times of crisis, unrest, sadness, and grief, we can all use positive coping skills to deal with what 2020 is throwing our way. You may already have a nagging voice inside your head — a voice urging you to eat better, work out more, or do more yoga. With all of the current uncertainty and strife, we really don’t need any more of the “shoulds,” the things we ought to be doing when we really would rather be laying on the couch or taking a nap. The reality is that we should stop “shoulding” ourselves and focus on short, effective, coping skills that are guaranteed to bring us peace and relief. Enter: meditation. Luckily, Dr. Cassandra Lenza of Healing on Hudson is here to provide us all with a quick, easy to follow guide on meditation. 

meditation guide

Meditating 101 

Meditation has an interesting reputation these days for being long and time-consuming. In reality, it does not have to be such a scary, time-intensive tool. Meditation is quite simply the joy of being. As a branch of yoga, meditation is known as sitting in stillness, so that you can wholly know yourself, your worries, fears, struggles, and innermost thoughts. Generating stillness often brings greater personal awareness, as well as peace of mind. This peace of mind then translates into your everyday life, relationships, daily chores, etc. 

The expectation is not that you have to chant “Om” over and over until you’ve reached enlightenment or have turned your brain “off” completely isn’t necessarily true. Meditation can be a short, 5-30 minute practice, where you sit in a quiet place and do it a few times a week or every day when you need a moment of peace and serenity. 

How to Meditate

Here are Cassandra’s five favorite ways to practice meditation.

 

yoga meditation stock photo

Lie Down on Your Yoga Mat

You may recognize this pose from yoga as savasana or “corpse pose.” Now, just be in this pose. Feel the way your body’s four corners touch the four corners of the mat. Notice your thoughts come in and out of awareness, but don’t try to fix anything, problem solve, or plan ahead. Just notice your thoughts, as they arise, and let them float through your body out of one of the four corners of your mat. 

Read More: Virtual Mental Health Resources in Hoboken, Jersey City, + Beyond

When You Wake Up, Set Aside Time To Practice 

In the morning, set aside 5-10 minutes because, remember, meditation is meant to be practiced. Before getting out of bed, plant your feet firmly into the floor next to your bed. Be comfortable and soft, and begin with taking deep, expansive breaths in, holding that breath for 5-20 seconds at the top, and exhaling. Continue this for your allotted time before you start your day. 

Utilize Guided Visualization

Visualize safety and stillness using guided imagery. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, or look down at the floor. Begin to take deep breaths and imagine a place where you feel the safest. Experience the safe place by taking an imagined “360-degree spin” around your safe place. What does every part of the safe place look like to you? What does the environment smell like? What do you hear? Engage all the five senses. When your thoughts wander, come back to visualizing your safe place.

meditation guide

Practice Loving + Kindness Meditation

First, choose a comfortable position where you can sit with your back straight and eyes closed. Then, repeat the words to yourself in silence, “May I be peaceful, may I be happy, and may I be safe.” Take your time doing this. After your allotted time, end your practice by saying, “May all beings be peaceful, may all beings be happy, and may all beings be safe.”

See More: A Simple Workout Guide to Keep Up with Fitness at Home

Use an App

If all of this seems a bit daunting to try, there are so many great apps out there to guide you on your meditation journey. Cassandra’s favorites include free apps that offer guided meditations such as Insight Timer or Calmor Headspace, if investing in an app increases your sense of accountability.  Cassandra also recommends free apps that incorporate coaching and behavioral therapy tools {talk about bang for your buck}, including Simple Habit and Prezence, a meditation app that incorporates Dialectical Behavior Therapy {DBT}, includes journaling exercises, and is clinically-supported by doctors at McLean Hospital.

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