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Some of the world’s most successful people, including industry leaders, performers, CEOs and athletes, meditate. That’s because it’s awesome and easy to experience benefits.
I know what you’re thinking, probably a mix of these common misconceptions:
Meditation is not part of any religious doctrine, though it is a technique used in many traditions to quiet the mind and can integrate into whatever belief system you subscribe to.
My mind is too busy.
Everyone has a busy mind; that’s the point. And you can’t be good or bad at meditation. But, like most things, it may take some practice.
I don’t have time.
Try 10 minutes a day. You’ll see benefits.
I have to sit in a crazy position.
If you can sit in a chair, you can meditate.
Meditation is for hippies and hipsters.
Go back to the beginning of this article and re-read. Besides, sounds like they’re onto something!
What is meditation?
Meditation is quieting the mind, focusing attention and awareness inward. It is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve the immune system, lengthen attention span and improve sleep, as well as increase self-awareness, compassion and contentment. There are many traditions and techniques, but here are some basics to get you started:
- Location: Find a quiet place and commit, preferably the same time every day for at least a month (read my thoughts on 30-day challenges); morning is thought to be best.
Posture: Spinal alignment and unrestricted breathing are most important. We often slouch at our desks, so you may be uncomfortable at first, but your body will adapt quickly. Warm up by rolling the head and shoulders, reaching the arms up and leaning to each side to stretch the muscles around the rib cage. This will allow for smoother breathing. Try one of these two postures:
- Friendship Pose — Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Sit tall with your spine aligned and shoulders back. Rest your hands in your lap, placing the top of your right hand in the palm of your left hand.
- Easy Pose (sukhasana) — Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. If there is discomfort in your hips or lower back, place a rolled up towel or meditation cushion under the hips, helping spinal alignment. Rest your hands as described above.
- Ready? Meditate:
- Gently close your eyes.
- Take some deep breaths, allowing expansion of the belly and breathing only through the nostrils without strain or sound.
- Focus on the breath, counting the inhale, 1, exhale, 2, up to 10 and then restarting.
- Your mind will wander. When you are distracted by a thought, acknowledge it and allow yourself to come back to the breath without judgment.
- You’re doing it!
Resources to Help Your Meditation Practice
- Several meditation apps are available. Keep an eye on this space as they enter the sports world. Headspace recently announced partnerships with Nike and the NBA.
- Check out “Meditation and Its Practice,” a quick read outlining the benefits and practice of meditation by Swami Rama, the first yogi to participate in Western scientific study of meditation.
- In “The Complete Guide To Online Meditation Resources,” Ashley Graber, a certified mindfulness and meditation teacher, shares what’s worked for her practice.
About Meredith McCurdy
Following a gap-year travel adventure in 2016, Meredith McCurdy is a freelance sports and entertainment marketer, yoga instructor and global wanderer. Previously, McCurdy managed Visa’s FIFA, entertainment and culinary partnerships. Prior to that, she was a sponsorship consultant at IMG (now Endeavor) and GMR Marketing. McCurdy earned an MBA from the University of Oregon, building on her previous experience in active lifestyle marketing. She is now exploring the social responsibility and social enterprise sectors.
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