Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
When I turned 30, I was diagnosed with ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD is defined as a chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. For me, my late diagnosis was more of a confirmation of something I always had assumed. I’ve always struggled with sitting still and find myself getting easily distracted between tasks. Going to the movie theater, for example, is torturous for me—sitting in one place for 90 minutes while following a story without drifting off into my makeshift fantasy world is close to impossible.
Yoga asana and meditation has definitely helped me to find more calm and stillness in my day. Incorporating time for introspection and decompression allows me to tap into the subtle moments between the breath and create more space in my mind. I’ve learned, for me, the process to stillness first begins with a lot of movement and preparation. If you’re like me and find it difficult to sit through and complete a meditation, here are four steps I take to prepare for stillness.
Clean Your Sacred Space
It’s super important that I clear out any stagnant energy in my space before I go into my meditation. Removing old energy with a thorough sweep, bringing life back into my space by watering my plants, and giving the walls a good wipe-down help me remove any blockages and stuck energy in my physical space. I love using homemade cleaning products using citrus infused essential oil blends, like this DIY all-purpose cleaner recipe I found from NOW.
See also Essential Oil Mixology
Next, I like to release any built up energy through ecstatic dancing, which really allows me to get out of my head and bring awareness to my body. I typically follow up my ecstatic dance with an asana practice like Yin Yoga—if I’m looking to focus on any spaces that need some extra attention—or I’ll get into a gentle Hatha flow. Since I find it hard to sit still, I always start any meditation with some mindful movement. I don’t follow any particular sequence, but just do what feels good for me in the moment. My time on the mat is mine. There are no rules. It’s sacred and messy and beautiful all at once.
Prep a “Meditation Station”
Now that I’ve worked out the kinks, I prepare what I like to call my “meditation station.” I love incorporating the elements into my sacred space, such as earth, which is represented by the plants, as well as candles and incense to represent the fire element. I also like to turn on my indoor water fountain to mask city noise.
Finally, I’ll use some essential oils so I can bring the sense of smell into my meditation. I’m currently obsessed with this Peace & Harmony essential oil blend by NOW that infuses some of my favorites like peppermint, lavender, and orange oil. I also use this time to cultivate self-love by giving myself an oil-infused massage.
The time has finally come for me to go into my meditation practice. I enjoy starting off by doing a few breathing exercises rooted in Kundalini Yoga, such as Breath of Fire, which focuses on rapid breathing in and out of the nose. I’ll also take this time at the beginning to do any last few shakes and shoulder rolls to prepare me for stillness. There’s this idea that in order to be good at meditating, one has to be still and clear the mind. Meditation is more about focus and attention for me in the moment. If I need to make micro adjustments, I’ll make them. If I can’t clear my mind, I allow myself to be a witness to what is coming up and acknowledge it. I enjoy listening to guided meditations, such as a Kundalini Kriya meditation, that involves mudras, chanting, and breath work.
Check out the video below to to see my practice in action, and share with us how you find ways decompress by using the hashtag #TheDecompressionSeries on Instagram.
This year, Yoga Journal’s annual ambassador road trip—the Live Be Yoga Tour—is going virtual. We are calling it The Decompression. Recently, we’ve all been asked to journey inward, to take moments of pause and stillness, and to slow down, rest, and prioritize the things we value. Follow the Live Be Yoga 2020 series here, stay connected with us at @livebeyoga on social, and join the movement to find beauty in stillness.