How to Meditate for More Intentional Living
Can you really dramatically shift your life just by taking a few moments every day to sit and literally do nothing?
I used to ask myself this question all the time. I would hear people talk of meditation, specifically the importance and benefits of it, so often, yet I always disregarded it. It seemed crazy to me that you could actually shift your thoughts, focus, and vibrations, simply by taking the time to close your eyes and "zone out". And truthfully, when I write it like that, it does sound crazy, but that was, to me, what I thought meditation was. I thought it had to be like that, and as a result, I made up so many excuses as to why I couldn't do it: my brain was loud, too full of thoughts to focus on "nothing". I didn't have time within my busy days to add yet another thing onto my schedule. Or, simply, I didn't know how to, and didn't have the time to learn. I could go on, but these are just a few of my most popular excuses for why I didn't meditate.
I don't remember what it was exactly that led me to finally trying out meditation, if I'm being honest. I think it was the culmination of several different things: toxic friendships ending, anxiety filling my brain, school clouding my headspace, and running around so much that I barely had time to breathe. And I think, it was only a few months ago (July 2017) that I actually made the effort to sit down and try to meditate.
I remember sitting down and growing increasingly frustrated as I wasn't able to focus my mind on nothing at all. Random thoughts and ideas kept popping up into my head, no matter how hard I tried to stop them, and the more I tried to push them down, the more they came back up. After a few minutes, I gave up, and decided that meditation wasn't for me.
It wasn't until I read Gabby Bernstein's book, "The Universe Has Your Back", that I realized I had been meditating all wrong. Meditation isn't about completely clearing your mind- it's learning to focus on small, intentional thoughts, and listen to your intuition in the process.
So for example, when I mediate, I may think of, say, the check I'm getting in the mail soon, and how good it makes me feel, and focus on and harbor that feeling for the duration of my meditation, instead of thinking of a hundred different things.
But more on that for a minute. For now, let's get into the fundamentals of meditation.
What is Meditation?
According to Wikipedia (don't laugh- they actually had the best online definition I could find), meditation can be defined as: "a practice where an individual focuses his or her mind on a particular object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state." Or, in other words, it's the act of sitting your butt down, closing your eyes, and focusing on the good shit. The shit that makes your soul sing and your heart happy, and brings you an overwhelming sense of peace, joy, and fulfillment (so again, going back to my previous example of getting a lofty check in the mail).
And trust me when I say it's as simple as it sounds. That's the beauty of meditation- it's as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. How you put your own spin on it is entirely up to you and your practice.
So, that leads me into the next piece, which is...
What are the Different Ways to Meditate?
Some do it standing up, some do it laying down. Whatever your position of choice ;) the way you choose to meditate is completely up to you. Some people like to follow guided meditations, which are basically audio clips that help guide you through your meditations, step by step, telling you how to breathe, what to focus on, etc. Others like to use specialized meditation apps such as Headspace, which put you on a meditation "calendar" and provides you with certain guided meditations for certain times of the day. And others, like myself, just want to sit down in a quiet, clean room, set a timer for a few minutes, and zone the heck out.
Not to sound like a broken record, but which method you prefer really depends entirely on you. I would recommend trying them all out and seeing which one "sits" best with you. For myself, I find guided meditations to be entirely distracting, but in that same breath, I have friends who can't meditate without an audio guide. You know the saying "different strokes for different folks"? Well, meditation is no different, and finding the "right" way to meditate will depend entirely on which method resonates with you. There isn't one method that is better than another- all of them are equally as good and equally as beneficial.
How Can You Make Your Meditation Practice Special?
Crystals, cards, oils, and soothing music are some of my favorite ways to enhance my meditation sessions and really "bring them to life" Of course, I should clarify that these are absolutely not necessary for the practice of meditation. You can easily just sit down in a quiet room, close your eyes for ten minutes, and badda bing badda boom, you've got yourself a meditation practice. But if you're looking to take your practice to the next level, adding these in can really help elevate your practice.
I could (and should) literally do posts on posts about different crystals, cards, and oils, so I'll try to sum it up in an orderly fashion.
crystals: You probably know 'em, and you probably either love 'em or hate 'em. if you're a crystal skeptic, then feel free to skip over this section. But if you're a believer, or even just intrigued by the idea, crystals can be an incredibly powerful tool to help set and bring intentions into your life. There are hundreds of different crystals for hundreds of different purposes: clear quartz for intuition, rose quartz for love, malachite for energy healing and positive transformation. Pick one that suits your focus for that meditation session (ex. if you want to focus that session on love and relationships, opt for a rose quartz), sage it, and set it on the ground in front of you while you meditate. As you're sage-ing it, put an intention into it using a mantra (ex: "I open my heart up to receiving love") and watch how your thoughts quickly turn towards love.
cards: Tarot cards, oracle cards, affirmation cards... whatever your choosing, cards can give you powerful insights into what you need to be directing your attentions to. I personally love the Gabby Bernstein "The Universe Has Your Back" Deck, The Akashic Tarot Deck (which is so scary accurate it's insane), the Wanderer's Tarot, and the Doreen Virtue "Messages From Your Angels" deck. I personally own and use every single one of these decks, and get very powerful messages from them. What I'll do is, if I decide to use cards, I'll pick whatever deck is calling to me, and repeat a simple mantra:
"Angels, I thank you for your divine guidance, and ask that you allow whatever message is meant for me to fall out of the deck. And so it is."
And with this mantra, one, two, even three cards will fall out of the deck, giving me my messages for the day. From there, I'll see if the message resonates with me (which, 99.9% of the time it does) and use that to guide my thoughts and intentions for that day's practice.
oils: Oils are one of my personal favorite ways to relax. While, much like crystals, there are hundreds of different oils for hundreds of different ailments, I love to opt for the more soothing, relaxing oils for meditations. Specifically, my favorite oil ever for meditation is the DoTerra "Serenity" oil. This baby smells like lavender and mint, and works wonders for anxiety, stress, and overall tension.
Once I sit down into my meditation, I'll grab just a few drops of oil in my hands (a little goes a long way) and rub them on the bottoms of my feet, the top of my head, behind my ears and neck, and on my belly, taking time to lightly massage the oil into my skin. Then, before I set my timer, I'll cup my hands around my nose and breathe in the scent of the oil. And before you ask, no, this doesn't get you high. Rather, it's an aromatherapeutic method of achieving a state of total relaxation. Seriously, don't knock it 'till ya try it.
music: Music for meditation is something I have a love-hate relationship with. While now, I prefer to do my practice in complete silence, when I first began, I loved putting on music to help me get "in the zone" and chill out. Like everything I've mentioned today, this is all about preference, and whether or not you like to use music will be entirely up to you.
Now with that said, I don't recommend you put on your typical punk jams for this. While that's great, and sure you could say it's relaxing in its own way, opting for more soothing sounds is the way to go. Many people love classical music for meditations, but as a classically trained ballerina, classical music just makes me start choreographing dances in my head, which is not quite what I want my meditations to be about.... haha. Jazz is another great option too, if you want something a little simpler than classical. But my personal favorite remains good 'ole meditation music. Just go onto Spotify (or Apple Music... or YouTube RED... or whatever) and search "meditation music" and boom! The sounds of running waterfalls and birds chirping will soon fill your ears. And as cheesy as it sounds now, you'll be surprised at how well it helps you to get into that meditation "zone".
So now that you (hopefully) get the gist of meditation, how can we harness this powerful tool to help create more intentional lives? Or rather, how can we use meditation to create the life of our dreams? The answer is probably a lot less complicated than you think.
The truth is, we can use meditation, every single day, to make small steps towards creating the life we dream of living. And yes, it really is as easy as taking 5-10 minutes every day to sit down and focus your thoughts on a specific intention.
Because when we take time to think of the positive things we want in such a relaxed state, we jumpstart them into action, and put them on the path towards physical manifestation.
You know that feeling where we're thinking of someone "out of the blue" and suddenly they call? Meditating is like thinking that same positive thought, but amplifying it. Because what are we doing during meditation? Visualizing. And what is the most important step to manifestation? Visualizing what you want so clearly that it has no choice but to materialize.
So if that is all true (which I believe it is), then imagine how powerful it is to spent 5-10 minutes every day focusing on what it is we desire. When we focus solely on those desires for just that short amount of time, painting the desires like a picture in our heads, imagining the tastes and smells and textures and feelings that are involved with what we want... we are kicking the Law of Attraction into action. We are creating such a high vibration towards what we want, that we are simultaneously getting closer and closer towards seeing it materialize in our lives (edit: if you don't understand what exactly I'm talking about, check out this post from the archives!)
And that, in essence, is truly why I believe meditation is so important, and why I believe that everybody should be meditating! Not only is it fantastic for easing anxiety and de-stressing, but it's absolutely crucial for making our dreams our tangible reality! As I like to say, the physical work is 50% of the battle but the mental work is the other 50%, and without both pieces of the puzzle, your dreams won't have the foundation to come true.
So get out there and start meditating, and watch as you begin to shift your life in the most wonderful and miraculous ways! And if meditation has helped you to create your dreams, feel free to share your stories in the comments below. I'd love to hear them.
Sending you all so much love and light. Happy meditating!