3 Fast Ways to Meditate On the GoApr 08, 2021
Meditation was a tricky thing for me for a long time - as it is for a lot of people - given my high levels of anxiety and inability to sit with my own insides for more than a few minutes without going down the “every dumb thing I’ve ever done” shame wormhole.
After months of trying and quitting, I remember “successfully” sitting through a meditation the first time at Lake Tahoe, sitting in an Adirondack chair, staring at the lake and pine trees. While my mind didn’t exactly calm down, I slowly came to this brand new sense of my skin … filling out. Like - instead of being shrunken down inside myself in a thought prison, I somehow expanded into every cell of my own body and actually EXISTED.
It was magical.
And lasted about 5 seconds that first time.
But what I learned was : meditation isn’t about escaping my thoughts. It’s about feeling myself exist.
I sit a lot more now -- 15-30 min at a time most of the time -- just practicing the feeling of really existing for a little while, rather than gasping for a moment of air between thoughts and tasks and ALL the feels I have MOST of the time.
But on days when I just can’t get into my own skin, or don’t take the time to sit, here are three of the fastest roads I’ve found to that magical place of filling out my own skin:
- Sensory Body Scanning:
- Start by just noticing that you have a body. That there are arms and legs attached to a torso. Maybe note how “much” you can feel that you have a body on a 0-10 scale or some kind of metric that resonates.
- Then, touch! Using a body brush, massage oil or just your bare hands, start rubbing your feet and lower legs. Pause after 10-30 sec and reevaluate how “much” you can feel your feet and lower legs.
- Move on to your upper legs and hips. Pause again. Your abdomen and torso. Pause again. Repeat for your front, back, sides, arms, hands and head!
- Then, do some long, brushing strokes from your feet to your shoulders, then down the back of your body.
- Finish by noticing that you have a body. Your arms and legs attached to your torso. How much you can feel your body on a 0-10 scale or some kind of metric that resonates.
- Counting Breaths:
- Inhale and exhale fully three times. Pay attention to your ribs moving, your clothes moving as you breathe, or something else you can FEEL as you breathe.
- Inhale for 3-4 counts, noticing any body feel.
- Exhale for 5-6 counts, noticing any body feel.
- Repeat this for 10 rounds. When you get lost or wander off into your thoughts (you will. It’s OK.) just start with the last number you remember and the most obvious bodily sensation you have.
- Listening Carefully
- Find a spot where you can sit or stand quietly for a bit. Sometimes walking works if you can split your attention better than I can.
- Listen to the most obvious sound you can hear. Name it (bird, car, loud ass refrigerator.) Let your ENTIRE awareness be soaked up by that sound.
- Then listen to the next most obvious sound. And slowly let yourself be completely absorbed by listening to the most subtle sounds you can hear.
- If (when) you get lured off by a thought or to do list, just find the most obvious sound again and keep going.
- This works exceedingly well in nature!!!
Take these as a tool for your daily life -- they work beautifully when you’re on the go and need to tap into your intuition, focus on connecting with someone, calm your system when you’re feeling elevated or stressed, or just want that ‘I’m HERE. NOW.’ feeling to replace the frantic sense of skimming the surface when things get crazy.
These are also incredibly important for strength practices! Lifting without being fully aware of your body can be a recipe for injury, plateaus and ineffective training sessions. Between sets, take 30 sec to touch in with one of these options and watch how it changes your next set … or your results days later!
Go forth and be present, friends!
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