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How You Can Start a Meditation Practice Today

How You Can Start a Meditation Practice Today

When shifting to the ketogenic (keto) lifestyle, many people are discovering that a meditation practice can be a big help in accomplishing their life goals. Meditating is widely recognized as one of the most effective ways to counteract the impact of daily stress—one of the biggest contributing factors of many diseases. Having a regular meditation practice has been shown to lower blood cortisol levels. It’s also a wonderful way to get connected to yourself, your needs, and your aspirations. It can improve your ability to stay focused, give you clarity and purpose, and help you get more out of your days. Having a regular meditation practice can potentially even unwind the effects of epigenetic and generational trauma.

Chances are you’ve already heard about the many benefits of meditation. You may have considered doing it yourself. Reducing stress sounds like a great idea. And who wouldn’t want to have a moment of calm that you can go to whenever you feel overwhelmed? But, like many of us, you just never quite seem to get around to it. Really, who has time to do all that on top of all of life’s other demands?

It can also seem like you already have to have a perfectly balanced life in order to start a meditation practice. Luckily, nothing could be further from the truth! In the famous words of Ram Dass, all you need is to be prepared to “be here now.”

Be here now.

Where will you be, when will you be there, and how will you be?

Make Time for Your Meditation Practice

Commit to a daily meditation practice and pre-forgive yourself for missing days. If you are very concerned about your attention span or currently have almost no free time, you can begin with a very short ten-minute daily commitment. As you show up for this ten minute stretch of time with yourself, your inner self will begin to trust that you will keep showing up. It will then become easier to lengthen your meditations to 20 or 30 minutes or more. (Spoiler alert: once you’ve experienced the benefits of meditating, you’ll probably want to enjoy more time in a relaxed headspace.)

The easiest way to make time for a meditation practice is simply to schedule it.

Choose a time of day when you can be alone and focused, and dedicate that time to your practice. Block time for it in your calendar to make it feel official, if that helps you. You can also set a reminder alarm (a gentle chime tone is nice) with your phone. Some people prefer to link it with an already established daily habit, like after you brush your teeth in the morning or evening. Alternatively, link your meditation practice to a specific meal or snack. Or you could decide that you will devote the first 10, 20, 30 minutes of your day to meditation. A meditation practice can be the beginning of your own Hour of Power. Whatever you decide, be clear with yourself about what your intentions are.

It’s not always possible to follow a schedule perfectly. What then? On particularly busy days, you might find that you still have a few extra minutes to yourself in the car (safely parked and ignition turned off). You can use this time to practice breathing into and experiencing your inner stillness. Or you might try meditating in the shower in the morning. Or in your kids’ bedroom after tucking them in and they’ve finally fallen asleep. You could listen to a guided meditation just before you go to sleep for the night. Or re-read an inspiring quotation just before you close your eyes in bed, and allow it to influence your falling-asleep process. There are almost endless ways you can incorporate a meditation practice into your keto lifestyle!

Find a Spot for Your Meditation Practice

Find an area where you will have enough room to sit or lie down in a relatively undisturbed fashion. Let’s say this is the corner of your bedroom, between your bed and the wall. It could also be a “secret” sitting spot in your attic or a portion of the living room near the television. For those of us in mild climes, it could be somewhere outside, like in the garden or on the back deck. 

But the most important thing you can do is simply to choose a spot, and regularly meditate in that space.

Once you have chosen your meditation spot, sit in it for a bit. How does it feel to do so? Which direction feels best to face? Will you need a cushion or bolster to sit comfortably? Take in a deep breath. How does the air feel? What scents do you detect? How would you prefer it to smell? What do you see when your eyes are open? What do you hear?

If you feel inspired, you can modify your spot to make it more pleasing to your senses.

Make Your Meditation Spot Visually Pleasing

If feasible, consider clearing and cleaning all the visible space (i.e. the rest of your bedroom if your back is to the wall) around your meditation sitting area. Then you can begin to create an atmosphere of special energy in this area. 

For instance, if you would like to create a space that invokes a particular experience, consider using some essential oils to change the way your sitting area smells. You can add a few drops into a diffuser, a pot of hot water, or simply to a cotton ball to achieve the desired effect. Essential oils can have a powerful effect on mood, which ties in to how we think and feel at any given time. Lavender tends to feel calming while peppermint is uplifting and invigorating. Rose combats anxiety and fear while lemon and orange provide stress relief. And then there are choices like myrrh, sandalwood, cypress, jasmine and more, all across the scent spectrum. Your local health food store would be a good place to do some smell tests, and of course there is online shopping as well. You may even have friends who sell essential oils and would be happy to have your business.

(Note: Do not apply drops directly to your skin; blend with carrier oils or lotions if you want to apply the oil to your body.)

Make Your Meditation Spot Quiet

If you would like to alter the sounds you hear while in your meditation spot, think of the best way to do so for yourself and your household. A small investment in a pair of comfortable over-the-ear headphones might do the trick. You can use them to listen to guided meditations, classical music, Gregorian chanting, or that album you were obsessed with when you were thirteen.

Some of the following items you will already have, some you may or may not acquire later. None are necessary. The point of them is to help you feel good, so don’t bother surrounding yourself with things just because you think you “should.” Surround yourself only with what you want.

Make Your Meditation Spot Inspirational

A pretty rug. Fabric for draping, such as an old sarong or pashmina. Candles, anywhere from one candle to several, depending on your judgment of the safety of burning them in your sitting area. A Himalayan salt lamp. Incense. Polished stones you discovered at the beach. Photos that make you feel good to look at, like the one I have of my son’s delighted face during an Easter Egg hunt. You might feel your heart rise when you think of your wedding day, so a photo from that day would be a good choice to have near you while you meditate. A statue of the Buddha, or the compassionate Kwan Yin. A print of Jesus praying. A beautiful bowl. A mirror. Leaves or seed pods or flowers you happened to find and pick up outside that day. Crystals. A singing bowl. Photos of your grandparents. Inspirational quotations.

As you bring your new sitting area into alignment, be patient with yourself. Remember that it is enough just to have a spot on the floor. And know that preparing this space for yourself can itself be meditative and grounding. You’re getting to know yourself as you make a space for yourself. Follow what feels right, and pay attention to all your senses, including your intuitive sense, as your space becomes more personalized and grounding to you.

Get Grounded in Your Own Body

What does it mean to be grounded?

I used to not know. Over fifteen years ago, when an intuitive counselor told me that I needed to learn to be more grounded, that I was like a bird flying up in the sky and nesting in trees, that sounded to me like advice to become more boring! As the years went by, and I felt myself trudging through life while joylessly managing my adult responsibilities, I thought that I’d accomplished this. Luckily, I was wrong! To be grounded is not to be trapped to the earth, unable to fly.

To be grounded is to be fully in your own body, experiencing the current moment as it is. You become aware of your feet connected to the ground, and to Mother Earth. You gain awareness of your heart and your breath. Tuning in and scanning your body, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Paying attention to what it feels like inside this unique body of yours. The feeling of being completely grounded can be a joy of its own. And it can also help you develop your intuitive knowing about what your body and mind need, and what is right for you.

Many people who follow the Keto Diet report that meditating helps them to feel grounded. Reducing stress in turn reduces, if not eliminates, the desire to comfort eat, stress snack, or eat “treats” out of boredom. Feeling grounded and knowing yourself also add clarity to your life, which can make you more productive and clear about what you want to achieve in life.

How to Meditate

Sit still. Or lie still. Take a moment to feel your body. Take a few moments. Breathe in. Breathe out. What is meditation, really?

It’s a way to connect with your inner wisdom, your own inner peace, your inner self. It’s not an intellectual process. Meditation does not live in the mind. Have you ever spent time meditating and come away from it feeling as though nothing happened except that you were quiet for awhile? If so, it’s possible you were attempting it only through a mental level. In fact, in meditation, much of what we are trying to find is in our whole being, not just our head. So one of the first things we can try to do is bring our awareness down out of our head into our body.

Consider experimenting with different guided meditations. An internet search for “meditation” paired with other words and phrases, such as heart-opening, chakra balancing, forgiveness, encourage your body to release pain, shaking, writing, meet your spirit animal, bedtime, astral projection, or healing can lead you on a rich adventure through your own inner spaces.

A Simple Grounding Meditation

Sit in your designated area, on a cushion if needed, with your spine as straight and relaxed as you can comfortably maintain, resting your hands, palms up, on your thighs or knees, gently closing your eyes, breathing in 2 3 4, holding the breath 2 3 4, then exhaling 2 3 4. Aim for equal lengths of inhalation, holding, and exhalation. Repeat this breathing cycle three times. On the fourth inhalation, direct your attention inwardly, inside your physical body, to the base of your spine.

Now imagine that roots are beginning to grow from your spine downward. Through the cushion, through the floor, through the foundation, down into the earth. Imagine these roots, which are vibrant and alive, are growing down and down all the way through all the layers of the earth, through rock, through magma, all the way down to the very center of the earth. Your roots connect with the core. As you sit and enjoy this feeling of connection, the energy of the earth comes back up through the roots toward you. It rises up to your spine and fills your body with this energy from the very core of the earth. Continue to sit quietly, breathing peacefully, until you are ready to wiggle your toes and open your eyes.

 

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