How to meditate when you think you can’t meditate

Meditating is good for you. It can calm your mind and lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Mindfulness meditation can improve sleep and reduce inflammation in the body.

But many people say they have tried meditation and failed. Here are some common complaints about meditation:

I can not. My mind wanders I can’t sit still. I can’t concentrate for that long. I fall asleep. I have too many loud thoughts.

If your first attempt or attempts at meditation led to any of these thoughts, then congratulations – you’ve meditated!

Many people experience meditation as a magical moment of transformation. But meditation is not about perfection. It’s about awareness. Being aware that your mind is wandering, that you are tired, that you cannot sit still, that your mind is racing – that is the purpose of meditation.

Judson Brewer, an associate professor at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School and a leading expert on meditation, said a common mistake people make is not understanding the goal of meditation. “I did that for ten years,” he said. “I banged my head against the wall thinking I needed to focus on my breathing and I did something wrong because I couldn’t.”

If you’re struggling with meditation, Brewer suggests remembering that at its core, a meditation practice is about helping you learn how your mind works. The day I spoke to Brewer, a student had just complained to him that she was struggling with meditation.

“I told her to be really curious,” he said. “If she notices that there is a thought, can she be aware of it? “Oh no, my mind has wandered” tends to take a backseat when we think we’re failing at meditation. But just notice it. “That’s what it’s like to be caught up in my thoughts.” You just learned about how your mind works.”

Even the fact that you think you’ve failed at meditating is worth noting, says Brewer. Have you formed a habit loop of berating yourself? “It doesn’t matter what the mind does,” Brewer said. “Any piece of information is good information. Be aware of that.”

Here is some simple advice to help you learn how to meditate and incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your day.

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Meditate in the morning. Morning meditation is a great way to ground yourself, and studies show that regular morning exercise can lower stress hormones over time. I have developed a morning ritual of enjoying a cup of coffee followed by a short guided meditation. Meditating during your other morning rituals can help you form a habit — and you’ll be less likely to nod off.

Use an app. It’s much easier to start a meditation practice with a little help. A number of apps — Headspace, Calm, Ten Percent Happier, and Unplug — offer free trials and programs to get you started. Apps also offer a lot of variety. Unplug has “meditation quickies” and quirky themes like a “before you send that email you don’t want to send” meditation.

feel your feet For a relaxed, mindful moment at work, take a few seconds to focus on your feet. how do they feel Are you hot and sweaty? Do they tingle? Are they painful and sore? Does one foot feel different? Think of the connection your feet have to the ground. Your mind is less likely to wander when you notice your feet. Brewer calls feet “fear-free zones.” And concentrating on your feet feels grounding in the truest sense of the word.

Try coherent breathing. Sit quietly and breathe in as you count to six, then breathe out as you count to six. You can sit upright or lie down. Put your hands on your stomach. If this is too difficult, start with a count of three or four and work your way up. The ultimate goal of this technique is to slow your breathing to five breaths per minute. Practice five minutes a day.

Notice the five senses. Start with a few calming breaths. Now see five things around you. This can be items on your desk, like a lamp, notepad, and pen, or trees and rocks when you go for a walk. Touch four things – the fabric of your clothes, a book, a leaf, the cat. hear three things. Notice a barking dog, the click of a keyboard, laughter in the break room. Smell two things. Sniff the air, the detergent smell that lingers on your clothes. Try one thing. End your meditation with a bite of chocolate, a piece of fruit, or a treat from the office candy bowl.

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Brush your teeth and meditate. This is my favorite because it’s so easy to make. Brush your teeth, but focus on the noise of the toothbrush. Notice the taste of the toothpaste and the foam that forms in your mouth. Focus on the coolness of the water as you rinse your mouth. Add a new element of awareness by standing on one leg while brushing your teeth.

Gray hair is enjoying something of a renaissance as more women let their hair its natural color during the pandemic. The New Yorker celebrated the trend with a photo essay of silver-haired women. The Gray & Proud group has more than 31,000 members on Facebook, while the hashtag #silversisters celebrates gray on Instagram.

But while such hair is heralded on social media, women say they still face discrimination for going gray, according to a study published in the Journal of Women & Aging. When University of Exeter researchers surveyed 80 women recruited from closed “going gray” Facebook groups, they found two competing themes: Women going gray say they are sometimes still ashamed of “going gray”. allow”. But they also report moments when they felt more respected and approachable.

The researchers found that when making the decision to go gray, many women find themselves caught between feeling authentic and competent. Here are some of the comments the researchers collected.

“I work with college-age students. Before I stopped dying my hair, they thought I was much younger and actually treated me like one of their own. Now they treat me like an older person—assuming I don’t identify with them.” — Tracy, 40s

“I love my natural hair color. I’m comfortable and loving who I am and who I’m turning into. I’ve found with my silver hair that I’m being looked at and treated more fragile.” — Mattie, 50s

But women also said there are benefits to going gray, including a sense of being authentic, more freedom, accessibility and respect.

“I actually feel better because my appearance matches my chronological age. This is me whether I like it or not. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. It’s quite liberating.” — Rose, 50s

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“It’s only recently that I’ve noticed that more and more people want to talk to me and come up to me in public. I especially notice younger men and women conversing with me. As a nurse I feel more accepted than knowledgeable, trustworthy and competent.” — Katie, 60s

“I find younger people to be very polite to me. lol Maybe some kind of standard respect because I’m older? It’s so weird!” – Alex, 40

Today’s everyday coach is James A. Coan, a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia who studied the effects of holding hands.

The advice: Holding hands with someone you care about.

Why you should try it: Using MRI machines, Coan studied the effects on the brain of holding hands with a stranger or someone you love. Participants included heterosexual and same-sex couples. To simulate stress, he gave participants a mild electric shock while holding hands with a stranger, friend, or loved one.

Holding hands lowered overall stress, but the calming effect was greatest when holding hands with a loved one. Remarkably, the effect observed in the brain was similar to that of a pain-relieving drug.

How it goes: Hold hands early and often – on a walk, in the evening in front of the TV or while waiting for your food in the restaurant.

How do you define healthy aging? The Washington Post health editors want to know. Fill out this form and tell us more.

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