Cassidy is a Toronto-based meditation teacher with Just Be Meditation. Certified in both the Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation and Applied Specialization of Mindfulness Meditation through the University of Toronto, you can find her on Instagram @justbemeditation or online at justbemeditation.ca
Throughout our lives, we find ourselves in periods of expansion and contraction. In this constant flux, meditation helps me to stay grounded, connected to myself and my intentions. The benefits of meditation are vast, in fact, we are just beginning to understand how far-reaching the outcomes are. What we know for sure is that meditation helps us on levels which are mental, physical, and emotional. From overall wellbeing, to immune system resiliency, meditators around the world tout the various benefits.
When my life feels expansive, with a sense of blossoming, I feel drawn to group meditations. When I am cocooning, a home meditation practice suits me. Today, I’d like to share a few tips on developing a home meditation practice, for anyone else who may be cuddled up in their cocoon.
Reduce distractions as you can
Turn off your phone, perhaps using a timer to let you know when the meditation is complete. If distractions arise, simply fold them into the practice – notice what you notice, and then return to your meditation, without any judgment. If you live with others, you can create a door hanger for your bedroom, notifying others that you’re in practice. You may wish to play some soft meditative or spa music in the background.
Same place, same time
The brain is always looking for patterns and shortcuts. If you can meditate in the same place most days, and ideally at the same time, you will reach a meditative state with more ease, as the brain recognizes “aha, it’s time to meditate” and allows you to sink in.
Create your sanctuary
Your space can be as simple as a pillow on the floor, a nook in your bedroom closet (if you’re trying to escape a noisy household, this works wonders) or on your balcony. You can choose some of your favorite items as anchors for your attention – maybe crystals, incense, or mala beads – but know that these aren’t necessary. The idea is to create your own personal haven, a place you can comfortably be yourself.
Choose the practice that works best for you
There are plenty of types of meditation to choose from. If your mind is busy, you may enjoy using a mantra, repeating a word silently to yourself with each breath. If you have trouble sleeping, progressive muscle relaxation works wonders. Mindfulness meditation, including body scans, help with anxiety, and emotional awareness. Looking to relax? A visualization practice can help, imagining yourself in a serene setting. Feel free to experiment with different styles, finding the one that resonates best with you.
Start with pranayama
Using the breath, you can help shift the body into the relaxation response. Imagine the way a baby breaths, with their belly rising and falling. This deep breath work comes from the diaphragm, a quick way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, so you can rest, relax and digest. It can be helpful to start each practice with a few long, slow, intentional breaths.
There are some incredible meditation apps, many of which are free. My favorites include Calm (developed by a Canadian), Headspace, and Insight Timer.
Above all else, be kind to yourself
There’s no such thing as a bad meditation! Even if you sit quietly for 5 minutes a day, you will begin to feel a shift, a sense of clarity and space expanding. Even if the mind feels busy, simply return to the practice when you notice that the mind has (inevitably) wandered.