Thanks to the natural health experts at Bastyr University, who have generously sponsored this series, the seventh challenge of our Working on Wellness Series had us finding ways to tackle mindfulness by meditating for five minutes a day for 14 days.
Here’s how it went.
Maria: This was a great challenge for me and I’m happy I got back into the practice of daily meditating. I did so well staying on track with my routine in the first week that I decided to step away from guided meditations and attempt mindfulness meditations, increasing from five minutes to seven minutes in week two. That being said, it did not go perfectly.
There are some that suggest in order to start experiencing the benefits of meditation, one should practice 15 minutes a day for one to two months. I have always had a hard time with this as I tend to doze off around 10 minutes. I mean, talk about relaxed, but not the goal. I also find this recommendation to be a bit generalized as there is no one way to meditate for anyone, and there are various types of meditation.
Since I was first introduced to mindful meditation five years ago, I’ve had difficulty sticking to a daily routine and building up to that 15 minute per day goal without falling asleep. Despite that, the practice of meditation and breath work continue to be tools that help manage stress and anxiety.
Olivia: I'm so happy to hear you found a lot of success with this challenge, Maria. I've also been intimidated by a 15-minute meditation goal in the past so I was relieved when we chose a shorter option instead. While 5 minutes may not seem like a long time, with everything around me quiet and still the time really felt stretched out and helped slow down my mind. I think the quiet during the time was the most therapeutic part of the practice. I forget sometimes how much noise is around me and the contrast is really enlightening and refreshing.
I found that meditating before bed was the most easy and beneficial time of the day for me. I usually have a hard time quieting my mind before sleep so the mindfulness that meditation requires forced me to push the busy thoughts from my mind. I'm looking forward to continuing this practice and am planning on finding more ways to bring mindfulness to my everyday life.
Here are a few suggestions, tools, and resources to improve mindfulness on a daily basis:
Schedule the time. Find the time in your day to make it work for you. You may prefer to take a pause at the beginning of your day or the end of the work day, either way, setting aside the time on your calendar will set you up for greater success. Set a reminder on your phone if it helps to keep you on track or to build up to the new habit.
Download and try new apps for guided meditations. Apps are a handy way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. Many apps offer free trials like the Omvana and Headspace apps. Also check out local clinics and workshops and find free options at your local library and through Meetup.com.
Explore different types of mindful meditation. There’s also walking meditation and eating meditation where the goal is to stay present and focus on the details of your current space, movements, and activities—which should help address the issue of falling asleep. It’s also been recommended to try more dedicated meditation practices such as kundalini, which should be led by an experienced practitioner, and Metta, which is meditating while projecting thoughts of kindness and love to self and others.
Incorporate international mindfulness practices. Cultures all over the world have their own set of rituals, some connected to wellness. This could be as simple as lighting a candle when you wake up and prepare for your morning yoga routine or having a cup of herbal tea before bed to help you wind down. Explore traditions from Mexico, Norway, Japan, South Asia, and the Middle East to create your own modern rituals.
Make mindfulness your own. You can achieve a clear state of mind in ways other than sitting still in silence. Artistic expression, forest bathing, mindful movement, journaling, and pursuing your passions are just a few alternative ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life.
Join Maria and Olivia on their journey to wellness when they tackle a Mediterranean Diet starting September 1. Follow along and share your experience using #EdibleSDWellnessChallenge and tagging Edible San Diego.