Being the new kid in class sucks. It’s made especially difficult when the subject is your inner self and connection to the universe. It seems a lot more complicated than it is. Jack White wasn’t born with a guitar in his hand, nor was Lil Wayne born with an iced grill. Meditation takes practice. With enough effort, any of us can reach a meditative state. Through the experience and wisdom gained through repetition, you can meditate anywhere you are. It’s not that you’ll grow an invisible force field. You’ll just get so efficient at reaching the state that you’ll need less and less time to reach it. You can get a benefit from just closing your eyes for 30 seconds if you make use of that time correctly.
1 – Relax
Anytime you reach an obstacle in your life, relaxation should always be the first step. You need a clear head to ensure you’re exploring all of the available options. It would suck to drive off a cliff just because you were too panicked to hear your GPS or read a map. When your mind is clouded, the overcast blocks out the light of your inner bulb. You limit your possibility of ideas. So relax. Stay calm, and walk it off…
2 – Breathe
You’d think since breathing is the most important and consistent function you’ve performed in your life, it wouldn’t be necessary to be reminded to breathe. The thing is, that’s all meditation really is: a reminder to breathe. By focusing on your breath, you’re forgetting all of your problems and dropping the weight of the world off your shoulders to pay attention to the most important thing going on right now in the present. Your breath — the fact you’re alive to experience anything — is all you need to care about. Just breathe…
3 – Close Your Eyes
Sometimes in order to focus on our breath and reset, it’s necessary to close our eyes. There’s less stimuli that way. Obviously, you don’t want to close your eyes in the middle of a freeway or battlefield, but when you’re immobile and in a decently safe place to stand, close your eyes for a minute. Focus on your breath entering and exiting your body. It’s like throwing a blanket over a birdcage to convince a bird to relax and go to sleep. Closing your eyes is a great way to ground and balance yourself.
4 – Smile
Feel your face. You don’t have to touch it with your hand (although that’s perfectly acceptable as well). You can feel the stress in your face, and it shows to people you interact with. By smiling, you’re relaxing your face, your entire body, and the world around you. People are more likely to respond to someone who is smiling. If a person is your perceived cause of stress, then smile at that person… if for no other reason than to piss people off. Making a concerted effort to smile forces you to think happy thoughts. Happy thoughts are literally the basis of positive thinking. It’s something you control, and smiling is the first step to happiness.
5 – Breathe
I can’t focus enough on how important it is to just breathe. It’s not just for meditation. Breathing is a life skill. Learn to breathe from your diaphragm. Close your mouth and breathe from below your throat as though you’re taking a huge gulp of air after popping out the water. Only instead of breathing through your mouth, breathe through your nose. Congratulations, mouth-breather, you’ve learned a valuable new skill, courtesy of Lifehack.
6 – Focus on a Mantra
Some forms of meditation involve a mantra. How you get a mantra is up to you. Whatever you decide to use, just keep repeating your mantra until you’ve stopped thinking about whatever is troubling you and/or keeping you from enjoying your present surroundings. This can be done with your eyes opened or closed and from anywhere you are in the world. You can even repeat your mantra (silently in your head, muttering, singing, etc.) while walking, driving, or performing any number of tasks.
7 – Stop Thinking
All of the meditation practices you’ve ever heard about are designed to teach you to stop thinking, if even for only a second. It doesn’t sound like much, but that one second break is capable of stopping all those constant nagging thoughts jockeying for position in your consciousness. You may be in debt. Work may be difficult. Friends and family may be acting the fool. Is it happening right now? If it’s not, then don’t think about it. If it is, then these meditative techniques will assist you in finding a solution.
8 – Picture Yourself Somewhere Else
Sometimes in life things get really bad. I mean really bad. I’ve woken up in bathrooms, bars, beds, cars, sidewalks, prisons, and all sorts of unsavory places. Sometimes situations occur in life in which it’s better to put yourself somewhere else. Click your heels and chant, “There’s no place like home.” Pretend you’re on a beach, in a forest, or out in the middle of the ocean — whatever is comfortable to you is where you should be. Your mind is capable of traversing time and space. While living in the present is ideal, it’s okay to daydream for a minute every now and again.
9 – Light a Candle
If you’re able to, light a candle. It doesn’t have to be a huge candle. Even a tea light will suffice. You just want some scents in the air and a dancing flame to focus on. Staring at a candle dance is called candle-gazing and is a very effective form of meditation. It’s like sitting and staring at a camp fire. For one reason or another, fire calms us. The flickering of a flame is useful for many things, but clearing your mind and pulling yourself into the present is definitely one of the top ones.
10 – Breathe
At the end of the day, your money, possessions, food, surroundings, family, and everything in your life only exists in your head. Why we’re here doesn’t matter. How we got here doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is that we’re here. We’re not going anywhere. If we’re going to be stuck here, we may as well be in control of ourselves. Learn to breathe. It’s the most important skill you’ll ever gain. Nothing else matters. Just breathe…