Take a little time to quiet the mind.
Does a beach vacation sound like the ideal way to cast aside stresses and burdens? Is the daily grind wearing on your mental health and sense of calm? Are the little things pissing you off? Have you possibly assaulted an inanimate object you stubbed your toe on in the last week? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, then you are in the right place.
Of course, we all could use a beach getaway to center ourselves and avoid putting our kids in the dryer and our wet clothes in the car seat, but if your off-shore bank accounts are a little short and your to-do list a little long, the idea of a vacation sometimes seems like more stress than its worth. But good news, my caffeinated, chore-consumed compadres! A staycation may be just what you need!
I'm not talking about braving I-70 for a wallet-shrinking weekend on the slopes or a trip to the local hot springs to soak away the sad (although, both are fantastic plays and I'll share some great ones with you later on). I'm talking about 10 minutes. 10 minutes a day in the comfort of your own home to take a little time to quiet the mind. (Yes, I am from Boulder. And yes, I am talking about meditation.)
Don't Feel Any Intimidation Towards Meditation: There Is No Wrong Way
When I first began meditating, I had the idea that I would be folded into a pretzel in a 110-degree room and transported out of my body. None of that has happened.
Yet, for many, the idea of meditation is filled with stigma and wrought with notions of lofty spirituality and stinky incense. I am here to clear the air. Meditation is entirely what you make it. The only requirement for meditation is a willing mind and a soft focus. A few bonus components -- especially when you're first starting out -- is a quiet space and a general idea of how to focus on nothing. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, and it is. But imagine if you could take all the energy you put into remembering the dry cleaning, picking up your kids from soccer practice, sending work emails while proof-reading your kid's science report, and channel it into focusing on ... nothing. Sounds pretty wild, doesn't it?
Meditation allows your mind to rest. In this day and age, it is more imperative than ever to give the ol' noggin a nap. Actively meditating gives your brain a chance to recharge and unwind. All the chatter of the mind can become exhausting, overwhelming, and quite frankly, overbearing. Give yourself an opportunity to let those things go, even if it's only for 10 minutes; I promise you, they are not going anywhere. Set a timer on your phone, get comfy in a chair or sitting cross-legged on the floor, and start breathing and stop thinking. You will find in the beginning it is much harder than you would expect -- and that's okay! Remember, there is no wrong way.
The Health Benefits of Meditation
Meditation's medical benefits have been scientifically proven to reduce stress. How neat is that? In a study of over 3,500 adults, researchers reported reduced Cortisol levels as a result of mindfulness meditation. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Dr. Matthew Thorpe reports that "over time, high levels may cause weight gain and high blood pressure, disrupt sleep, negatively impact mood, reduce your energy levels and contribute to diabetes."
What this means is that all this productivity, multi-tasking, and busting your tail can, actually, in the long run, be not so awesome for your body -- particularly your mental health. But that laundry won't do itself and having your kid watch the sunset alone on the soccer field is not the parent-of-the-year look. So, an easy solution that doesn't involve shrugging your obligatory duties or running off to Tahiti is meditation.
Whoever says they don't have 10 minutes a day is lying to themselves and their smartphone. Invest in your health and, more importantly, your sanity. Take a brain-cation and feel the benefits almost immediately and definitely exponentially as the practice becomes routine over time.
How to Get Started
Something as simple as sitting quietly and breathing can actually seem overwhelming and complicated. I'm sure some of you are saying, "it can't be as easy as just sitting there," or maybe you've given it a shot and while meditating, the thought occurs that you're doing it wrong. As I have stated before, there is no wrong way. But there are certainly a lot of ways that work and are awesome stepping stones to get into the rhythm on your own.
Guided meditation is easily the beginner's best friend. Download the Headspace app. Not only is it free to download, but it has introductory courses led by a lovely British man, all of which are also free. If you like the app and want all it has to offer, it's around $7/month for the full benefits. There are numerous audiobooks, tapes, and CD's out there, but this app is frills-free, beginner friendly, and eases you into meditation like a mother duck sending her ducklings onto the pond.
Another great technique is mindfulness meditation, which is simple and the most effective at recentering and resetting the mind. Mindfulness meditation is about focusing on your breathing, your current surroundings, and letting thoughts come and go freely. When your attention drifts to what you are making for dinner or how many strokes you can drop in your golf game this summer, notice it, let it go, and continue to focus on a single breath at a time.
Now You're a Pro, So Where Should You Go?!
By now, in the non-existent chronology of this article, you have surpassed shamanism and achieved total consciousness -- and have that going for you, which is nice. Naturally, you're going to want to take your meditation practice to the streets. You know, folded like a pretzel atop a mountainside with a goat behind you and the clouds below you. Maybe there's a gong being struck somewhere. We're still riding this no-need-to-hit-the-beach train, so let's talk a Colorado hot spot for upping your meditation game.
Crestone, Colorado, is a hidden gem for the aspiring yogi and meditation mogul. Located only three and a half hours from Denver, it's a quick getaway devoid of ski traffic and tourists. The town of Crestone is small, cozy, and nestled into some of Colorado's most epic 14ers. Right next to the town, lies an enormous spiritual center on the Baca Grande. Explore incredible temples, shrines, and ashrams. The architecture is phenomenal, the backdrop breathtaking, and the serenity and solitude are all that you'll need to find yourself on the brain-cation of a lifetime. If you are looking to take your meditation to the next level and want to explore a local hidden treasure that caters to unwinding and recharging, check out Crestone, Colorado.
You've Got the Tools, Now Go Do Nothing!
You know it's good for you. You know how to start. You know where to go. So what's stopping you from making a small change in your routine that makes a huge difference? Explore the world of meditation and start seeing the results in your peace of mind, your presence in the moment, and maybe, just maybe, that next vacation has already happened inside that crazy head of yours.
Have anything to add? Sound off in the comments.