You’ve no doubt heard the saying “It’s what’s on the inside that counts” and I believe that’s very true. I focus quite a bit on outer beauty on this site, and while that’s a lot of fun and beauty products can certainly help boost confidence, enhance physical features and disguise “flaws”, it’s time to talk about something even more important: inner beauty. The real deal. The soul behind the lipstick. (Sorry, that was cheesy).
My favorite way to cultivate inner “beauty” a.k.a peace is through daily meditation. I’m not talking about religion, I’m not talking about selling all of your possessions and living a life of silence in a monastery. I’m talking about simply setting aside a few minutes every day to do nothing but breathe. That’s it.
Sitting in silence may not sound like much but meditation can have a profound impact on mental peace and clarity, reduce stress and lead to improved overall health. (Check out this link for more info on the many benefits of meditation.) All of the makeup in the world won’t help you feel beautiful if you’re not feeling content on the inside, so why not set aside a small slice of your day to slow down the incessant thoughts and reeeeeelax? The world can be crazy; you deserve a break.
If you’re brand new to meditation, start with just 2-3 minutes of sitting silently with your eyes closed. Find a quiet place, set an alarm on your phone for 2 minutes, silence that bastard, close your eyes and listen to your breathing. Gradually add one or two minutes every couple of days until you’ve worked up to a 10-15 minute session. Or, if you’d like a bit more instruction, I highly recommend downloading the Headspace app.
The point of meditation is not to stop all thoughts or to completely clear the mind, although it is a very welcome bonus when that rarely does happen, the goal is to let your thoughts float in and out of your awareness without getting attached to them. Sometimes I find that the second I close my eyes to meditate my brain wants to start making lists of things I need to do, recall embarrassing moments, or recite Whitney Houston lyrics. Not exactly the way to inner peace.
Instead of getting caught up in those thoughts and spending the whole 10 minutes thinking, I try my best to focus all of my attention solely on my breath. The feeling of air coming into and going out of my body. The sounds my breath makes. The sensation of my chest rising and falling. Any time my mind wanders I acknowledge that I’m caught up in thinking and return my attention back to my breath. This definitely takes practice but gets easier with time.
Enough background – let’s get down to it.
Here are my best meditation tips:
- Meditate at the same time and in the same place everyday.
I try to meditate for 10 minutes in the morning before work and 10 minutes in the evening. Some people like to sit cross legged on the floor on a cushion to meditate, some people like to lay down, some people like to walk. I personally meditate sitting in an old blue La-Z-Boy chair. Whatever works. Setting a daily repeating event reminder in my phone and sitting in my designated meditation chair helps keep me in the habit.
- Set a timer, silence the phone, leave it alone.
Nothing will take me out of the flow of meditation faster than my phone beeping with a new Snapchat notification, so before beginning I’ll silence my phone, set an alarm for 10 minutes and leave the phone on the other side of the room so I’m not tempted to peek. Pro tip: Use the Chimes alarm sound if you have an iPhone – I find it’s the least jarring when the alarm goes off.
- Let it go.
Yes, your mind is going to wander. That’s what it does. Don’t beat yourself up or get frustrated with it. Notice when you’re starting to get caught up in thoughts and gently bring all of your attention back to the sound and feeling of your breath. As long as you let the thoughts come and go without fighting them or getting attached to their story, you’re golden.
- End with gratitude.
Gratitude is a powerful thing. It’s also a great way to end a meditation session. It can be tempting to jump up when the timer rings and rush back into life, but I find giving my meditation the same ending each time helps tell my brain “We’re done now” while easing back into my normal routine with positivity.
So when the chimes ring, I silently tell my inner being/God/the universe/whatever you want to call it: “Thank you. I appreciate you. I love you.” Now I know that may sound incredibly cheesy and I admit I did feel weird saying it the first few times (even though I’m just thinking it!) but I swear it helps. Give it a try.
- Enjoy the benefits.
A daily meditation ritual can help you feel more relaxed overall, build better concentration, help with maintaining emotional balance and generally give you a more content, peaceful feeling during your non-mediating time. Perhaps most importantly – meditation teaches you that thoughts are just thoughts. They come in and out of your awareness all day long. Instead of getting wrapped up their endless stories, you’ll find there is always a deep inner peace underneath all those thoughts that you can always connect with whenever you need to.
Here are some guided meditations from YouTube I really like, if you’re into that sort of thing: