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Meditation 101: Practical pointers to get started

Posted: 2:49 PM, Feb 03, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-04 06:13:17-05
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(WXYZ) — Ever feel like you’re going 90 miles an hour and can’t seem to focus or calm your mind? That’s where meditation can come in handy.

The centuries-old practice doesn’t have to be the habit of only monks and yogis.

We break it down for beginners in today’s Living a Better Life.

From fixing breakfast to braving the morning commute to balancing work and home life, there’s a lot to stress you out these days.

So, more and more people are turning to meditation.

“I love the way it reaches mind, body, spirit, heart, soul,” said Tammy Natoriano of St. Clair Shores who meditates daily.

Tudi Harwood of Grosse Pointe Farms meditates two to three times per week.

“I feel that when you meditate, life is more manageable,” explained Harwood.

I dropped in to a free, 15-minute Community Meditation class at Yoga Shelter in Grosse Pointe.

“Imagine your inhale is a wave washing upon the shore,” said instructor Stephanie Popso softly.

“Unlike a full on yoga practice, this breath work can be practiced at our desk, in our cars, at our homes," Popso said.

Popso got interested in meditation through yoga.

She is a wellness and transformational habits coach who learned to take meditation off of a pedestal and make it practical for her busy lifestyle.

“My meditation is one I can get in a 10-minute walk and just breathe. My meditation can be cooking. My meditation can happen with that 4, 7, 8 breath work before I go to bed,” said Popso.

Her advice for beginners? One, start small with mini meditations.

“It could be just closing our eyes and breathing for 60 seconds in the morning and 60 seconds before we go to bed. And once we’re able to achieve that on a pretty regular basis, maybe we bump that up to three minutes or five minutes,” she explained.

Two, focus on your breath.

“Being conscious of our inhales and our exhales,” said Popso.

She says that allows us to slow down enough to be “present,” and the present moment is where we can start to begin a meditation practice.

Three, use a mantra.

A mantra is a word, sound, or phrase that when repeated in your head helps you concentrate and quiet the mind.

Stephanie’s favorite mantra is “I am that I am.”

She understands that some people do best with guided meditation – like in a yoga class or with an instructor. You can find apps with timed meditations for a monthly or annual subscription.

She recommended “Calm” —which offers some free programs and then for $12.99 a month or $59.99 a year, you can get access to its entire catalog of sessions.

Other apps that offer similar services include “Headspace,” “10-Percent Happier,” and “Simple Habit.”

The benefits of starting a regular meditation practice?

“Letting the stress fall away. Letting the anxiety of the future fall away. And I think the golden nugget is being able to be present. Being present with the people I love, being present with my family, being present enough to see an amazing sunset,” said Popso.

Bottom line, don’t overthink it.

Stephanie says, obviously, you’re not supposed to meditate while you’re driving or operating machinery. But don’t feel like your setting has to be something out of a spa brochure.

A quiet spot in your home or office can work.

For some people sitting in a chair is more comfortable than sitting cross-legged on the floor. Others would rather lie down on a mat or lean against a wall.

And maybe playing some soothing music in the background will help you focus.

Popso likes to say there are 31 flavors of meditation and 31 flavors of yoga. It really is up to you to find your path and what works best for you. Namaste!