I’m sure it’s no surprise how much I adore a good self care session, right? But something I really can’t gush about enough it meditation! I mean, seriously, how awesome is it that you can sit still and breath deeply for a few minutes and reap so many rewards?
Meditation supports your well-being in so many fantastic ways, like reducing stress and anxiety, supporting your immune health, improving focus, fostering a healthy blood pressure and so much more! But it’s not always easy to know where to start! I know I felt really lost back when I started.
And since I want you to be able to tap into this easy form of self care with a ton of confidence I decided to invite Jennifer Mazzoni, the lovely, creative mind behind helpmamameditate.com, to come by and teach us how to meditate with ease.
Ready to dive in? Let’s take a peak at Jennifer’s advice on how to meditate and get our om on!
Take it away Jennifer! <3
How to Meditate with Jennifer Mazzoni
Maybe you’ve tried meditation before or you want to meditate but don’t know where to begin. Instead of wondering or feeling discouraged, read on and learn more today in this meditation starter guide for beginners.
The Breath Is Your Anchor
The breath is the key to a meditation practice. The wonderful and miraculous thing about your breath is you’re always doing it, and your body does it for you without any additional effort on your part.
Meditation practice allows us to truly focus on the breath (rather than being caught up in the ever-present thoughts in our mind) as we inhale and exhale. We take the time to feel our breath: the cool air at the tip of the nose, the rise and fall of the chest or belly, and the warm air escaping through the nose or mouth.
Let’s practice together right now.
Take a deep breath and notice any sensations or feelings that you experience.
Now count your breaths as you inhale up to five breaths.
Most likely after the second or third breath, your mind wandered or you became lost in thought. That is totally normal! It happens to all of us.
Instead of focusing on how you became lost in your thoughts, change your mindset. Focus on the fact that you woke up when you realized your mind had wandered.
We can always begin again in meditation.
The breath is not the only thing people focus on during meditation, others may prefer a visual such as a candle burning or repetitive words such as a mantra. I tend to focus on the breath, because it is something I can do anytime of the day, not just during meditation, but find what works best for you.
Eyes: Open or Closed?
You will most likely see people meditating with their eyes closed in films or on television shows. That’s a perfectly fine option during meditation. In fact, most beginners may prefer eyes closed meditation, since they are still learning how to focus on the breath. Keeping your eyes closed reduces visual distractions, and let’s face it, in our modern society we are inundated with visual stimuli from our TVs, phones, and tablet devices.
Opening your eyes during meditation offers a completely different experience and is a great way to challenge yourself by learning how to focus with visual distractions. It may reduce daydreams as well, because it is harder to get lost in a daydream when your eyes are open. When practicing this way, keep your gaze soft rather than staring at one item. Opening your eyes during meditation can also prevent napping. (Always a good thing!)
There are three popular meditation positions: sitting, lying down, and kneeling. Let’s look at all of the options!
Sitting can be accomplished cross-legged on the floor. There are meditation cushions available to achieve a comfortable seated position. You can also meditate while seated in a chair, which is what I do often due to pain issues. Pain is not a requirement for meditation.
When seated, practice good posture: the crown of the head is lifted, shoulders are back, hands rest on your knees, jaw is relaxed. Sit in a dignified manner. Your position is the first step in setting your intention to meditate.
Meditating While Lying Down
Lying down to meditate is a great option for people with back pain and other health concerns. Many people in my meditation group prefer lying down because of pain. I recommend practicing eyes open meditation if you’re lying down.
Kneeling is a popular method in Japan, referred to as seiza. You can use a meditation bench or cushion for support and proper spine alignment.
When to Meditate
You may be thinking “that’s all well and good, but when can I find time to meditate? I’m so busy!” I always challenge people to think about how much time they spend on social media or online in general. If you can take five of those minutes away from your social media time, you have five minutes to meditate! It’s a great sensory break from scrolling, and meditation has many benefits.
Benefits of Meditation
Some of the benefits of meditation may include:
- Improvement in attention and emotion regulation
- Reduced stress, anxiety and fatigue
- Improvements in working memory,
- Better concentration thanks to reduced distraction,
- Implicit age and race bias reduction
And that’s just to name a few!
It’s OK to Start Small
When you’re learning how to meditate it helps to start small. If five minutes of meditation feels too daunting, start with one minute- only 60 seconds from your day.
Attach meditation to a daily habit, such as brushing your teeth, your morning cup of coffee or tea, or part of your night routine before going to bed. Some people simply take five minutes from their lunch break at work to meditate. It’s a great way to reset your busy mind.
When you feel ready for longer meditation sessions, start increasing your time every week. As you become accustomed to your new daily practice, you’ll wonder how you were getting by without it.
Your Own Meditation Space
Another action that can encourage a daily meditation practice is setting up a meditation space at home.
1. Find a quiet, private space in your home that you find peaceful or relaxing.
2. Gather your items:
- Use the five senses as your guide:
- Sight- favorite book, photo of loved ones
- Sound- music or relaxing sounds from an app
- Smell- fresh flowers, reed diffuser, candles
- Touch- blanket, beads
- Taste- tea, coffee or water to drink after you meditate
3. Display your items: use a table or tray.
4. Arrange your items in a way that inspires you. Feel free to rearrange them as the seasons change.
How to Meditate as a Form of Self Care
Taking five minutes (or more) out of the day to meditate is a beautiful way to practice self-care. You are giving yourself an opportunity to quiet your mind, not be drawn in by your thoughts, and to focus on the amazing fact that you are alive and breathing!
Let’s End Together with a Guided Meditation:
Check your posture, that the crown of the head is lifted and relax your jaw.
Take in three deep breaths. Feel your breath as you inhale and exhale.
Set a timer for five minutes. (I love using the Insight Timer app).
Breathe naturally. Count your breaths on the inhale to ten. When your mind wanders, begin again at one. When you reach ten, begin again at one.
Close your eyes (or keep them open). Your practice, your choice.
Don’t judge yourself when your mind wanders. Each time you “wake up” and realize you were lost in thought is the golden moment.
Thank you for meditating with me today.
To learn more about how to meditate and work on mindfulness and to access the Secret Library of guides & resources from my website Help Mama Meditate: click here.
If you’re interested in the Facebook group for women (featuring weekly Facebook Live guided meditations), click here to join the club.
(This is Sara taking back the wheel!) Thank you so much for teaching us how to meditate Jennifer! Wasn’t this awesome guys?! I wish I had awesome advice like this when I started!
Did you have fun learning how to meditate with Jennifer? Have you meditated before? What advice would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!
Health and love,
Thought of the day: One step at a time and you’ll go far.
About the Guest Blogger: Jennifer Mazzoni, Founder of HelpMamaMeditate.com
Jennifer created her blog Help Mama Meditate after being inspired by the birth of her second daughter. Jennifer provides meditation and mindfulness advice to mothers and beginners through her blog and her Facebook group. She leads weekly guided meditations via Facebook Live.
A rehab speech pathologist by background, Jennifer began meditating during the stressful times of graduate school ten years ago. Jennifer lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.