Meditation for people who hate meditation

What do you picture when someone talks about meditation? You may have heard of all the benefits that meditation can give, such as relaxation, relief from stress and anxiety and even relief from minor pain.  But is it for everyone?

Meditation, at its core, is a technique to clear or focus the mind. By letting go of or clearing away all the chatter in our brains and focusing on something simple and in the moment, a person can get a break from the mental hamster wheel we so often find ourselves on. Worries about our appearance, job security, what we saw on the news last night, if we’re going to win the lottery, if our co-workers are talking about us, if we should buy that new piece of clothing or save the cash for something else, if you’re somehow not living the life you’re supposed to, if you’re “good enough”…all these concerns can make us neurotic balls of stress and anxiety and let’s be honest, does worrying about these things really make your life any better?

However, there are a lot of different ideas floating around about how to “properly” meditate, how long it should take, if you need a guru or teacher to show you how’s it done, if only people of certain religious backgrounds can do it, etc. The most common image of what meditation is often involves sitar music, lots of incense and maybe some chanting. It can make meditation seem like an exotic, remote, esoteric pastime out of reach of the ordinary person.

If you simply look at “meditation” as a way to take a break from your internal whys, hows, ifs and buts, then you might find that you already have ways you meditation in your daily life. If you’ve tried meditation classes before and were turned out, you might have not found a technique that fits your needs and personality. If you’d like to try

Here are a few types of meditation I found online that can be easily added into the busiest of schedules:

  • Walking/ Movement meditation – Go for a walk or even just stretch and really focus on the feel of your muscles moving. If something aches, be gentle with that area. Self massage can work for this. See it as a time to really nurture your body and focus on what it needs, instead of judging how well it works or how it looks.
  • Musical meditation – Create a soundtrack of relaxing, soothing music or even recordings of nature sounds. There are tons of apps available that let you listen to various natural sounds (very handy when stuck in traffic). Focus on the music.
  • Mindfulness meditations – Pick a moment to totally absorb yourself in. If you’re eating lunch, really focus on the taste and texture of the food. Chew slowly. Listen to what’s going on around you, how the air is sitting on your skin and how your butt feels in the seat. Don’t dwell on “why” and try to avoid mental commentary – if you’re brain does start chattering back at you (“God, this seat feels small – I must be gaining weight. I must be fat as hell”) then just pull your thoughts back to what you’re experiencing at the moment. Breathing exercises are also a great opportunity for mindfulness – time your breaths and breathe slowly and deliberately. Or stare at a candle flame. Or practice being mindful while washing dishes. Just immerse yourself in any given moment.
  • Prayer/ spiritual meditation
  • Mantra/ Sound meditation – As opposed to listening to music, with a mantra you chant (or in my case, sing and hum). While ‘Om’ seems to be the sound most people are familiar with words such as “Love” “Hope” or other short, simple words can also work. I hum – the focus is to really savor the sound, stretch it out and let it vibrate through your vocal cords and chest.

If you’re curious about meditation and how it might help you cope with your lupus symptoms you can check out some of the below articles:

Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress – Mayo Clinic
The Benefits of Meditation – Psychology Today
Not All Meditation Types Are One-Size-Fits-All, Study Suggests – Huffington Post

Do you use mediation to help cope with lupus symptoms? What kind? How has it helped?

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