Got a much-needed vacation coming up? Maybe a long July 4th weekend? Your meditation practice is one of the easiest things to take with you! When your schedule doesn’t allow for a full-blown mat practice, you can still quiet your mind.
Yoga and meditation teacher to the stars Alanna Zabel, who has worked with Adam Levine and Kelly Lynch, says all you need is a mere 3 minutes. Whether you find them when you’re lingering in bed, sitting on a beach, or going for a gorgeous hike in nature, here are your five steps to a mental vacation.
1. Start small. Just as you would train your physical muscles, your mental muscles have similar phases of development. Practicing even 3 minutes of stillness can feel like a long time when you first start meditating, so do whatever you can.
2. Do it your own way. Don’t feel confined by strict practices like sitting. If you’re getting outdoors this summer (and we hope you are), try a 10-minute walking meditation. Pay attention to each of the following: the physical sensations of your body walking; the flow of your breath; the sensations of air, wind and gravity on your body; what you hear; what you can see.
3. Meditate with purpose. It seems ironic, but meditation is a very active process. The art of focusing your attention on a single point is difficult, and it really helps the process to be purposefully engaged with what you are doing. Although there’s no need for repetitive mantras or forceful objectives, it is nice to have a positive intention for each day (even if it’s “I really need to relax on this vacation.”)
4. Watch your attention. Your biggest block to meditation is yourself or, more specifically, your mind. This is great news for success because you can control your mind. If you notice yourself getting caught up in a train of thought that pulls you strongly from the present moment, simply bring your attention back to your breath. This truly gets easier with practice.
5. Remember: The practice is a process. Be compassionate with yourself when your mind drifts so as not to discourage your progress. Pretty soon you’ll be able to meditate anytime, anywhere, regardless of circumstance or environment.
Looking for more guidance? Let one of our meditations walk you through the process.
The Space-Between-Breaths Meditation
The Great Heart Meditation
How to Meditate on Light
—Dana Meltzer Zepeda