When your live becomes too stressful, what do you do to calm yourself? How, in your everyday life, are you able to relax? By running? Having dinner with friends? Enjoying a glass of wine? Having an evening with (or without) your children? Participating in a yoga class?
Have you ever thought of practicing meditation? Far from being complex, meditation is a great way to relax and to increase the performance of teamwork. That is the reason why some companies like Google, Apple and Target now offer meditation sessions to their employees. Do you know that there are plenty of places around you that are perfect to meditate and reconnect with yourself without having to go too far? Before running to the yoga studio, why not be a little creative in our approach to relaxation? Shouldn’t being Zen be part of how we live our everyday life?
– By Marie-Éve Trudel, wellness associate, Lolë ambassador and founder of yogacamp.co.
How-to:Determine your approach
There are many different types of meditation (Mindfulness, Vipassana, Zen, Transcendental, through laughing, etc.). The approach proposed by Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, inspired us a lot. “We are working hard to improve the external conditions of our existence, but ultimately it’s still our mind that experiences the world and translates it into wellbeing or suffering. If we change how we perceive things, we transform the quality of our lives. And this change is the result from the training of the mind called “meditation”. More precisely meditation consists of taking control of one’s mind, to become familiar with a new understanding of the world and to cultivate a way of being that is no longer subject to our usual ways of thinking. ” (The art of meditation, Matthieu Ricard)
Whatever technique you choose, don’t be too picky about the length of your meditation, about how you position yourself or about what will serve you as a seat. Above all make sure that the location is conducive to reconnecting with yourself and that it makes you feel good. Find a comfortable position in which you have a straight back and your shoulders and neck are relaxed.
If the location allows it and it is possible to meditate without headphones, do it. Dare to let yourself be lulled by the sound of leaves, a fountain or by silence. If you are just starting your practice, your concentration level might be lower or the environment in which you meditate is noisier, some applications such as Headspace and Nicole Bordeleau’s web site (in French) are good references and can guide you. Several other “podcasts” and videos in French and English are available online, for example My Virtual Yoga or YogaGlo.
Meditation is one of the easiest healthy habits to adopt: a place, a mat, good technique, some tips and tricks and you are ready to go.
When: Choose the right moment
As some places are more favorable in the morning and others in the evening, take a moment to determine the best time to go, so you are able to enjoy the place and what it has to offer.
It is also crucial to choose the ideal moment in your day. Most meditators practice at a similar time (not fixed) each day because the body better assimilates the benefits and it is also an excellent way to create a healthy habit. Choose for example your way home after work, leave a little earlier before you go pick up the kids at their daycare, set the alarm clock a few minutes before the rest of the family gets up in the morning or arrive a little bit before your colleagues at the office. Find the routine that works for you and include a 5 to 20 minute meditation on a daily basis. That is what meditation advocates Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra recommend on their online app (chopramediationcenter.com).
Is it impossible for you to determine a specific time every day? Don’t judge yourself. The goal is to relax, not to create additional stress. However, since discipline is talent’s best friend, you should try to find another time in your day, reduce the duration, start with two minutes instead of ten, but set yourself clear objectives. Once you chose your place and your goals are set, determine your technique.
Mary Queen of the World Cathedral
Where: Choose the right place
A variety of places are great to meditate on a daily basis, besides yoga studios being the obvious choice. Here are some suggestions:
In a garden: Whether you are in town or in the suburbs, it is always possible to find a green space to meditate: the Botanical Garden, the Laval Nature Park, Beaver Lake, along the Lachine Canal or the River, “la Berge des baigneurs” in Laval, “Parc the la cité” in Longueuil, etc. Most parks are always open and free of charge. Rediscover yours!
In a church: They are places of healing and reflection. Take advantage and go inside, close your eyes, and immerse yourself in the tranquillity, whether you are a Christian or not. Another plus: no chair and mat needed!
In a museum: A place of creativity and dreams, museums and their surrounding areas (entrance, courtyards, gardens ..) allow to escape in the middle of the city. A meditative walk (slow and conscious, where you put your focus on contemplating the surrounding areas and on deep breathing) is quite appropriate here.
At the spa: The relaxing ambience of a spa is definitely recommended to decrease anxiety and stress. The simple fact of spending time in the hot tubs and taking the time for yourself is beneficial. Between each cycle, add a ten minute meditation session and relax your body and your mind.
At the office: Most of us spend the majority of our time there. What if the office became our Zen place? Why don’t we change our mindset in relation to this important space? To meditate in the office is quite possible and can be very enjoyable: Reserve a meeting room for lunch, or take a few minutes before leaving in the evening. At lunch time, sit comfortably in a chair with your legs uncrossed, your shoulders relaxed and take a few breaths. Still stressed? The next time you think about taking another coffee or tea, take three deep breaths while rolling your shoulders backwards. Add plants to your work environment.
At the library: They are free and perfect for meditation. Also take this opportunity to find the book The Art of Meditation by Matthieu Ricard.
In public transportation: How about all the time you spend in the car, at the bus stop or on the airplane, think of it as time you have to yourself. You could see it as a stressful moment because you’re impatient, but why not take the opportunity to change perspective and focus on yourself? Put your phone down and become aware of the present moment. As if you were watching a movie on the big screen, look around and contemplate.
Other great places: The Concordia greenhouses in Montreal or the green terrace of the Cegep in Old Montreal are just two examples of the many places that offer visitors urban relaxation areas where they can recharge their energy.
Our routine can also be stressful. So always be curious, that will make you feel Zen! Take pleasure in trying new things and get away from your old habits. Be seduced by the tranquillity of a place and if you feel the sudden urge to stop, to just that and sit down. Follow your instinct.
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