“When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing. Sometime you just need to relax, breathe, let go and live in the moment.” – Unknown
Sometimes we have a hard time letting go control of life. I know that I am totally guilty of this as I often catch myself trying to be in control– of what we eat, what others eat, what I do, of what others do… as a dietitian it’s hard not to get caught up in an organized, controlled life.
We aren’t supposed to be able to control life, it was made to be that way. If we could control everything, we would never learn any important lessons. We can however, be in control of how we react to situations. We can react with love and peace, or we can react with anger or annoyance.
Starting a daily meditation practice can be very helpful in bringing us into the moment! Staying in the present moment is the only thing we truly have. The past is the past, we cannot change it. Most of the time we will never be able to think about what will happen in the future, we just waste the present moments thinking about the next ones.
I went to a beginner’s meditation workshop hosted by a Buddhist Monk a couple months ago and wanted to share some of the things I learned. Meditation is not a religion-specific practice. It is for anyone from any religious background who wants to learn how to center themselves and become more mindful and present.
There are three basic types of meditation:
- Laying down meditation: relax on your couch or in your bed in a comfortable position. Relax all of your muscles and release any tension you may have in your neck, back, arms or legs. Imagine your favorite spot in nature, and take deep breaths in and out. Try to keep your mind empty by imagining the sun, the wind, the green grass, etc. Another method the instructor taught was a body scan. Imagine each part of your body, starting from the feet up. Smile and breathe in and out for each body part, recognizing it’s importance to your well-being.
- Walking meditation: You can either go for a walk outside, or you can just walk through your home. Take a breath at each step, one in and one out, and repeat a mantra. The instructor suggested “I am home”, or “Here, now” as mantras that could bring peace and a feeling of safety. We did this in a group setting with about 30 people! It was a great experience.
- Sitting meditation: The most popular type of meditation. Sit in a comfortable position with your back upright. Try to sit on a pillow and lean forward, so your back stays straight. Don’t slouch. Cross your legs, and make your thumb and index finger touch. Inhale deeply and exhale. Close your eyes. There are several types of sitting meditations you can do: sensory awareness (what do you hear? feel? smell?), breath awareness (if you feel sleepy, focus on breaths through your nostril. If you feel distracted, focus on your abdomen), breath counting (count from 1-10, keep your mind clear), or breathing with a mantra (“I am home” or “Here, now”, or my favorite, “I am strong, I am healthy”).
Sometimes it’s hard to keep your mind clear. The instructor at the workshop gave these tips to keep your thoughts at bay:
- Imagine that your mind is a clear sky, your worries/thoughts are the clouds. You see them, they’re there, you can’t get rid of them, so accept that they’re there but focus on the clear sky around the clouds.
- Your thoughts are monkeys and the more you try to stop them, the more that appear. Focus on a tree, deeply rooted with a sun and clear sky with monkeys jumping around in branches. Focus on the roots and ignore the monkeys.
- You’re leaning up against a wall of a train station. Trains are your thoughts. They’re coming into the station, slowing down, but then continue right on through the other end. You are aware of the trains, you can feel them, but you don’t have to pay attention to them.
Do you have a meditation practice? Interested in starting to meditate?