5 Days to More Calm: Meditation

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Today’s topic for 5 Days to More Calm is meditation which is probably the top practice I use to find calm. Meditation can be defined as “a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state.” (Yoga International) Additionally, it can be a way to find your inner peace and a way to train your mind so you’re not constantly caught up in your thoughts.

I discovered the amazingness of meditation through starting my yoga practice. At the time, I did an online meditation challenge with yoga instructor Faith Hunter and fell in love with it. Becoming a consistent meditator is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, and the practice has literally changed my life. It has taught me to be in the present moment more often, I’m able to hear Spirit and my intuition more easily, and I can tap into my inner peace when I need to throughout the day.

Meditation also:

  • Helps you create a more positive mindset and helps you focus on more productive thoughts.
  • Decreases your tendency to worry and/or overthink.
  • Can lessen anxiety and depression.
  • Reduces your stress levels.
  • Improves your concentration.
  • Strengthens your immune system.

Some types of meditations you can try include:

  • Concentration: You focus on an object (like the flame of a candle, a figurine or crystal), a mantra/word or affirmation as you meditate. If/when your mind wanders, bring your awareness back to your object of focus.
  • Mindfulness: In this type of meditation, the intent is to allow your thoughts to come and go while also being aware of your breathing and any sensations you feel.
  • Mantra: Here, you can repeat a mantra like ‘Om,’ ‘Peace,’ or ‘Relax.’ Or use an affirmation (or a few) like, ‘I am calm and centered,’ or ‘All is well.’

Here are a few tips and ideas for getting started with your home practice:

Set up space for it. You can use a spare room if you have it (but you definitely don’t need it) or space in your bedroom. You can include things like a yoga mat or meditation pillow, incense, candles, crystals and/or anything that brings you calm and positive vibes.

Prepare your body.

Ways to sit: If you’re on the floor or on your bed, you can sit in traditional meditation style, kneel or with your legs in front of you. If you’re in a chair, plant your feet on the floor. Keep a straight spine (you can sit against a wall if you need to).

Hands: A few simple ways to place your hands are: palms up or down on your legs, prayer position with your hands at your heart or bring your index finger and thumb together while resting your hands on your legs.

Breathing: The simplest technique to use is deep abdominal breathing. Inhale fully, allowing your belly to expand, and exhale completely, letting your belly button go towards your spine. If you find it challenging to keep your breath even and/or to focus, as you inhale, count to 5, and as you exhale, count to 5.

Make time for it. Decide how often you want to meditate and what time(s) of day. Then put a reminder in your phone or add it to your to-do list. Try different times/days to see what works best for you.

Start small. You can begin with 5 minutes a day (or even less if you need to), then work your way up to longer times as you grow in your practice.

Remember it’s a practice. You may fall off with your consistency or feel like it’s not working or find that it’s challenging to keep your mind still and focused. It’s okay; it happens (yes, even to me, even after all these years). I encourage you to do your best, to keep going, and know that the more you practice, the more you will reap the benefits of meditation.

Need assistance with starting your meditation practice? My book, ‘The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm’ has tips to help! Learn more and order/download your copy in the Black Mom Calm Shop.

#MeditateInMay Meditation Experience

 

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

May is National Meditation Month! As I’ve mentioned many times, having a meditation practice is one of the top ways I’m able to find my calm on a daily basis, which is why I’ve creating this challenge.

Every day, I’ll share a quick and simple meditative technique that will allow you to find your inner peace, calm, and harmony. To keep with the day’s practice, be sure to follow Black Mom’s Guide to Calm on Instagram and Facebook . Click here to download the calendar.

Meditation/breathing tips:

  • Do the exercises in a quiet, distraction-free space, if possible. Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine.
  • When inhaling, breathe through your nose, filling your belly with air like a balloon. When exhaling, breathe through your nose or mouth, bringing your belly button back towards your spine.
  • To help you focus on meditating instead of the amount of time that’s passing, use a timer or an app like Calm.
  • If you find your mind wandering, bring your awareness back to your breath/the present moment.

Equal Breathing

  • Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand while counting to 5.
  • Exhale fully through your nose while counting to 5, allowing your navel to go back towards your spine.
  • To help keep each breath equal, count in your head. And if/when your mind wanders, bring your focus back to your breath/counting.
  • Repeat for 3 to 5 minutes.

 Alternate nostril breathing can:

  • Give you an energy boost.
  • Increase your focus and concentration.
  • Bring you calm and help you relax.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Make a gentle fist with your right hand. Extend your thumb and last two fingers, leaving space for your nose.

2. With your thumb, close off your right nostril, and exhale through your left. 3. Fully and deeply Inhale through your left nostril.

4. Close your left nostril with the last two fingers, and exhale fully through the right nostril.

5. Inhale through your right nostril. Close it off then exhale through the left.

6. Repeat steps 2-4 for one minute.

Here’s how to do a walking meditation

Visualization Meditation

  1. Find a quite, distraction-free space (if possible), and sit comfortably with a straight spine.
  2. Inhale fully and deeply, filling your belly with air. Exhale fully, allowing your belly button to go towards your spine.
  3. Continue breathing deeply, and imagine yourself in a beautiful location, like a beach, mountains, or garden. See yourself as calm and relaxed with everything as you want it.
  4. Focus on what you can see, hear, feel, touch (e.g., hear the waves of the ocean, feel the sun on your skin, etc.).
  5. Keep visualizing for a few minutes and/or until you feel more calm.
  6. When you’re ready, gently bring your awareness back to yourself and the present moment, then open your eyes.

Mindfulness Meditation:

Mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe your wandering thoughts as they drift through your mind. The intent is to not get involved with the thoughts nor judge them but to simply be aware of them, and let them go on by without giving them your energy or attention. As you meditate today and thoughts come, be aware of them, then let them go.

If you find it challenging to “just let them go,” imagine the thoughts on a screen scrolling by or put them in a bubble and let them float away. Then, focus your attention back on your breath.

Concentration Meditation

With concentration meditation, you focus on a single point, like a single word or mantra, a non-moving object (like a candle or figurine), or your inhalations and exhalations, which is what I do primarily. For example, I will inhale and count to four, then exhale and count to four.

Of course, the idea is to continue concentrating the entire time, but you still might find that your mind wanders. When this happens (and it will, no matter how “seasoned” you are as a meditator), gently bring your awareness back to the chosen object of attention, and let the thoughts go.

Here are the links for the guided meditations (on the 15th, 19th, and 30th):

Guided Meditation to Get Grounded

Guided Meditation for Self-love and Self-worth

Everything is Working Out! Guided Meditation

 

This post will be updated frequently, so be sure to check back for more tips and resources!

#MeditatingInMarch: Start Your Home Practice

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Welcome to week 3 of #MeditatingInMarch! This week’s focus is on starting your meditation practice at home:

1. Find/create space. Having a space that inspires you and/or makes you feel peaceful will likely motivate you to actually meditate. If you don’t have an entire room you can use (I don’t), no worries! Just use what you have and get creative. You can use a corner in your bedroom or put your items (like crystals, incense, candles, etc.) on your nightstand or table.

2. Make time. To become consistent with your practice and experience the amazing benefits of meditation, you must make time for it. Ways to do this: 

  • Write it in your planner.
  • Put a reminder in your phone.
  • Schedule it in your calendar.

3. Start small. If you’re just getting started with meditation, you don’t have to start with an hour, 30 minutes, nor even 15 minutes a day. Begin with 2 to 5 minutes, then work your way up to longer times as your practice continues.

4. Be gentle with yourself. If you remember nothing else, please remember this: Meditation is a practice. There will be days when your mind won’t stop wandering; there will be times when it feels like it’s not working. Just remember that the more you do it, the easier it becomes (most days). And the more you keep at it, the more often you reap the benefits.

Check out the YouTube Channel for guided meditations to help you get started!

How to Incorporate Meditation In Your Daily Life

One of the top ways I make sure I stay calm, grounded and centered every day is by meditating. My meditation practice allows me to begin my day on a positive and peaceful note, helps me worry less, and it helps me stay in the present moment (just to name a few benefits).

If you don’t have one already (or if you fell off the wagon), I definitely recommend that you incorporate meditation in your life. In this video (from a Facebook live), I’m sharing a few simple ways you can get started:

#CalmTip: Do a Shower Meditation

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Of course, showering is how most of us stay clean, but did you know they can also reduce anxiety, lower the tension in your body, and free up your mind (cold shower)? I saw the idea of a shower meditation on Pinterest and loved it! Here’s how to do it (it’s really easy):

“Every time you take a shower, visualize washing away your stress and anxiety. Concentrate on the feel of the water upon your skin. Envision the power of the shower washing away your negative thoughts! Woosh! Envision fear, regret, and anger soaping off you and swirling down the drain.” – Karen Salmansohn

[Video] You CAN Meditate (I Promise!)

In this video, I’m sharing the top two reasons I hear why people don’t think they can meditate — and why those reasons aren’t true! Even you — yes YOU — can meditate…promise. And you totally need to. Watch the video to see why and how to begin.

 

4 Types of Meditation to Consider Trying

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

You’re totally new to meditation — or you’ve tried it some — and you decide to open up your browser and do some research. If you’re like a lot of people, you probably get overwhelmed by all the different types of meditations you see. But, because I’m here to help you get started, here are my favorite types of meditation you can start with (by the way, with all of these, you can sit in silence or listen to soft, relaxing music):

1. Concentration

With concentration meditation, you focus on a single point, like a single word or mantra, a non-moving object (like a candle or figurine), or your inhalations and exhalations, which is what I do primarily. For example, I will inhale and count to four, then exhale and count to four. Of course, the idea is to continue concentrating the entire time, but you still might find that your mind wanders. When this happens (and it will, no matter how “seasoned” you are as a meditator), gently bring your awareness back to the chosen object of attention, and let the thoughts go.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe your wandering thoughts as they drift through your mind. The intent is to not get involved with the thoughts nor judge them but to simply be aware of them, and let them float on by without giving them your energy or attention.

3. Affirmation

So, I don’t know if this is the “real” name, but affirmation meditation is using affirmations while you’re, well, meditating. You can choose affirmations for whatever you might want to work on in your life like creating calm, abundance, joy, etc.

If you’re going to create your own, here are a few tips:

  • Begin with the words “I am,” and/or use present tense. Speak it as if it’s happening now.
  • If you’re having trouble believing what you’re saying (which is key), say something like, “I believe it’s possible to…” or “I give myself permission to…”
  • Make it positive. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t let negative people disturb my peace,” say, “I am only allowing positive people around me, and that brings me peace.”

4. Laughter

Okay, so I can’t say this is a favorite as I’ve never done it, but I thought it was…interesting.  As I was looking for a photo to go with this post, I saw the above picture that I’d saved a couple of weeks ago, and it made me remember that I’d heard of laughter yoga. Then I thought, ‘Well, there must be laughter meditation, too.’ So, I Googled it, and here we are.

According to do-meditation.com, laughter meditation has three parts: 1) Stretching; 2) Laughter, and 3) Stillness; and the best time to practice this is in the morning on an empty stomach; but if not, do it before lunch or dinner. To begin, stretch your entire body (one to two minutes) by standing on your toes, and bring your arms overhead with your fingers interlaced. You should also loosen and stretch the muscles of your jaws and face.

Next, start smiling softly; broaden your smile, and begin laughing without force. Deepen your laughter so you feel it from your belly. Try and laugh ‘with’ yourself but not ‘at’ or ‘about’ someone or something; be mindful of the moment of laughter — whatever you’re experiencing in that moment, laugh with it.

Finally, stop laughing and close your eyes. Come to stillness, and if you were standing, find somewhere to sit. Become aware of the silence, and when thoughts come to you, let them go, and focus on the sensations in your body.

Have you tried any of these meditation techniques? Which are your favorite? 

“Meditation and concentration are a way to a life of serenity.” – Baba Ram Dass

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

#CalmTip: October 20th, 2015

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Not only is meditation an awesome way to create more calm, it also cultivates a consistent sense of inner peace and decreases your tendency to worry. You don’t need anything special to meditate; your stillness and breath are all that are really necessary. If you’re ready to begin your practice, learn more about the Meditation Mentor audio.

“In the rush and noise of life, as you have intervals; step home within yourselves and be still.” – William Penn

How to Meditate:The Basics

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

Want to meditate but having trouble getting started? This post is for you! I’m going to share the basics of how to meditate so you can begin your practice. Before I get into that, I want to share a definition of meditation:

“a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state.”

When meditating, your mind is relaxed and inwardly focused, and when your mind becomes silent and is no longer a distraction, your meditation practice deepens. (It’s super important to remember that meditation is a practice, meaning the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and if you want to reach that deeper level and really reap the benefits, you have to do it on a consistent basis).

Now, on to how to meditate:

  • Find a quiet, distraction-free space (even if people are in the room, e.g., your kids, as long as they aren’t disturbing you, you can meditate).
  • Sit on the floor, a yoga mat, in a chair, or even in your bed. Wherever you sit, make sure your spine is straight. Two common ways to sit are cross legged or kneeling.
  • Basic ways to place your hands include: on your thighs or knees (palms facing up or down); prayer position with your hands at your chest; bring your thumbs and index fingers to touch and place the back of your palms on your thighs or knees.
  • When you find a comfortable seat and have placed your hands, close your eyes and mouth, and relax your body. Begin inhaling deeply and exhaling fully, and continue throughout your practice.
  • If you’re a beginner, meditate for anywhere from two to 20 minutes. (You can use an app like Calm or Meditation Helper to keep track of the time).
  • Some ideas for maintaining your focus: Concentrate on your inhalations and exhalations, and when thoughts come to you, let them go. Or, “watch”  your thoughts, then watch them float by.

That’s it! As I mentioned earlier, once you begin practicing meditation on a consistent basis, you’ll reap the benefits and see how it can change your life.

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there — buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” – Deepak Chopra

 


Take your meditation to the next level with guided Mediations for Calm, Happiness, and Fulfillment! Click below to learn more and purchase.

 

 

Photo Credit (top)/Zdenka Darula