Meditation Techniques for Busy Minds: Cultivating Calm Amidst Chaos
January 14, 2024
How is your pre-holiday season going? Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, commemorating Hanukkah, or simply marking the end of the year and the beginning of a new one, December tends to be a busy period for many of us.
Life may not always descend into chaos, but just in case you’re feeling the pressure creeping up on you we thought we’d take another look at meditation techniques in this blog. Our goal is to help you calm your busy mind and show you how you can integrate meditation into your yoga practice.
What is Meditation?
Before trying to define meditation, let’s consider this for a minute – every day, our mind processes around 6,000 thoughts. That equals one thought every few seconds. Thinking is not a linear process for most of us. Our thoughts interrupt each other, like people interrupting each other in an out-of-control meeting room, for example.
If you’re in that meeting room, you’d struggle to understand the points your colleagues are making, let alone share your insights in a meaningful way. When your mind becomes overactive, something similar happens. As thoughts interrupt one another faster and faster, you may feel like your mind is spinning and you can’t think clearly. Plus, thoughts are not the only ‘thing’ competing for space in your mind. Emotions, doubts, anxieties, and worries also take up space.
Meditation helps you cut through that chaos, calm your mind, and think more clearly. So, what is meditation? Meditation is an ancient practice that can help you connect your body and your mind, focus your attention, and produce a state of deep relaxation. Practicing meditation is a great way of untangling those competing thoughts, emotions, and anxieties. Whether you use your practice to help you relax at the end of the day or focus in the morning, regular meditation improves overall emotional well-being, physical, and mental health.
A Look at Different Meditation Techniques
Think of meditation as an umbrella term for different techniques and approaches. Just like the word ‘yoga’ includes a range of schools and practices, there is more than one way to meditate and benefit from a clearer mind and greater focus.
In this blog, we’ll introduce you to three of those approaches, but the list (if there is such a thing) is much longer:
- Guided meditation
- Mindfulness meditation
- Yoga meditation
Guided meditation is an excellent path to meditation for beginners. As the name suggests, you will be taken through the session by an instructor or a teacher. In most cases, your guide will ask you to focus on specific things, such as sounds, smells, or images that you find relaxing and calming.
You use the guide’s voice to stop your mind from wandering and stay with the subject or the situation that you want to focus on. Guided meditation sessions can last just a few minutes, perhaps as part of a more extensive yoga and mindfulness workshop, or they can be standalone sessions.
Practicing mindfulness is another way of reducing stress and making it easier to focus on what is most important to you right now. Mindfulness helps you stay in the present rather than drifting off into unhelpful thoughts about the past or worrying about the future. Practicing mindfulness allows you to increase your awareness and realize when your mind is drifting off or racing.
During your practice, you focus on what you experience right at that moment. To get started, one of the most common approaches is to try and follow the flow of your breath. Easy as this may sound, you may notice your mind wandering off to other topics. As your awareness increases, you catch these lapses sooner and manage to bring your mind back to your breath.
Yoga and meditation are often mentioned together because the two practices complement each other so well (check out the section below for more information on that). Still, they are two different practices. That means you can meditate without practicing yoga, and you can also choose to focus on the physical aspects of yoga without necessarily embracing meditation.
Having said that, with many yoga postures requiring a degree of balance, aligning your body and your mind makes it easier to focus on the movement you’re attempting right now. It’s often impossible to maintain balance when your mind is wandering. Plus, many yoga classes finish with Savasana, a yoga pose that encourages deep relaxation. Savasana is an excellent transition pose helping you move from yoga to meditation.
How Yoga and Meditation Complement Each Other
Although you can practice yoga and meditation separately, both are more powerful in combination. Practicing yoga teaches you to align your breath with your movement. Over time, you become more aware of how your breath guides your asanas. Meditation improves your level of awareness and ability to focus, even if you only practice a few minutes every day.
Spending some time practicing meditation at the end of your yoga practice is a great way to reflect on your practice, observe any changes you feel, and even consider setting an intention for your next practice.
The two practices are so well suited that we devoted an entire blog to Yoga Meditation just a few months ago. Check it out to learn more about poses that allow you to combine both.
How do I Integrate Meditation into My Yoga Practice?
If you’re new to yoga or meditation or both, take a look at Uptown Yoga’s Flow + Meditation classes. During these sessions, our experienced instructors will introduce you to the benefits of combining these practices and allow you to explore how meditation can change your yoga practice.
Use these classes for inspiration and consider adding a few minutes of meditation to your morning routine. Taking this time to focus on yourself, and your physical and mental well-being will put you in the right state of mind to face a busy day without letting it turn into chaos.
Take a look at our class schedule today and book a session that suits you!