top of page
  • Writer's pictureDionna Langford

The Best Gift To Give Yourself in the New Year Might Be Meditation

Life in the modern digitized world can be exhausting. As we continue to grow from the challenges of the last few years, many issues compete for our attention. Collectively the Covid-19 pandemic left many of us burnt out as we faced major life transitions such as the death of loved ones, job losses, and the ending of marriages and relationships.

Our weeks can quickly become governed by page-long to-do lists filled with errands, work, school, and family-oriented tasks. The pressures of daily life can leave us physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. Common stressors may include:


A woman engaging in meditation on a brown rug at home


financial difficulties

systemic injustices/climate and

existential anxiety

caregiving

family tensions

work burnout

health ailments






We are all dealing with something More often than not “multiple somethings.” These stressors, if not addressed, can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health complications. While there is no cure-all remedy to manage all our life stressors, there is a practice that research has demonstrated to be a tremendous help: meditation.


Meditation can take many forms but most share a few key elements: focusing your attention on your inner world, (such as breathing or bodily sensations), or your outer world, (such as sustaining your attention on your immediate surroundings, relaxed breathing, a quiet setting, a comfortable position, and an open mind.

This practice has seemingly been found to help everyone including those suffering from chronic pain and illness, people in high-stress jobs, youth and adolescents, those in the grieving process, and individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, and PTSD.


A woman engaging in meditation on a brown rug at home




Meditation has been shown to have many positive outcomes including increased levels of emotional intelligence, increased feelings of happiness and joy, and decreased feelings of anger, anxiety, or depression.





The best part is meditating does not have to cost you any money and it does not require any special tools or equipment. Yet, it can change your life in many meaningful ways. It can be as simple as finding a comfortable spot, closing your eyes, and paying attention to your breathing. Below are two quick meditations you can incorporate into your day.


 

A. Drawing Your Attention to your Breath

In this mediation, you can start off by finding a comfortable position. You can sit on the floor, on a chair, or lie down if that feels good to you. Slowly lower and soften your gaze. Let your surroundings phase out of focus, or you may close your eyes if you feel comfortable.


A woman engaging in meditation on a brown rug at home


Begin by taking 3-4 deep breaths in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Focus on the sensation of the air coming in through your nose, flowing down into your chest, or feel your stomach rising and falling. Next, allow your breathing to return to its normal state.






Once it returns to its normal state, for each breath you can begin to mentally count, for instance, “ 1” (for your inhale) and “2” (for your exhale), continuing to count each inhale and exhale until you reach ten. You can do this for as many cycles as you would like.


You will get distracted. This is normal and part of the process. As thoughts come up, acknowledge them, and then mentally release them. (You may choose to do so with guided imagery, like imagining your thoughts floating down a river or releasing into the air). Then, return your focus to your breath.


B. Mindfulness Nature Meditation

Take a walk around your neighborhood or at your favorite local or state park. While walking choose to take note of one or more of the following stimuli: (1) What do you see? (2) What do you hear? (3) What do you smell?


A woman engaging in meditation on a brown rug at home

If your attention starts to drift to your to-do list or your worries, or a random tv show you were watching the night before, acknowledge it, and gently bring your attention back to the stimuli you are intentionally bringing your conscious awareness to. This is a great practice to ground you and bring your present awareness to your body.






 

A woman engaging in meditation on a brown rug at home

While meditating is free, there are several apps that for a price can help you begin a meditation practice and track your journey. Headspace and Calm are two of the most popular and respected. OneGiantMind is a free app that teaches people to meditate through their 12 day and 30 day programs. Insight Timer is also a resource many people love

and find helpful.





If you are feeling heavy, sad, overwhelmed, anxious, angry, or reeling from personal challenges, meditation may be one tool to change your life for the better. It is as easy as paying attention to your breaths for 30 seconds. What do you have to lose? You might actually find you have everything to gain.


References:

Chu, L.-C. (2010). The benefits of meditation vis-à-vis emotional intelligence, perceived stress and negative mental health. Stress and Health, 26(2), 169–180.


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022, April 29). A beginner's guide to meditation. Mayo Clinic.

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page