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Namast’ay Blissed Out

By Gina Way

Meditation. Just the word can inspire a skeptical eye roll. Bet you’re thinking of chanting, incense & hipsters right now. We know! But trust us, there are a ton of modern-day benefits to gain from the centuries-old practice & here’s the big surprise: Meditating doesn’t need to take a lot of time out of your day or be a big to-do (unless you want it to be).

You don’t need a special space to do it &—spoiler alert—you don’t have to sit in the lotus position like Buddha. The cool thing about meditation is that you can customize your practice so it’s as personalized to you as your sense of style. After all, it’s your little pocket of time to do what you need to decompress & clear your head. (And it’s free!) Even the most Type-A eye roller can get on board with that.

Daily meditation can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure & curb chronic anxiety.

There’s a reason it-girls on both coasts have adopted meditation with the same fervor they did Sweaty Betty leggings: Just a few minutes of mindful meditation per day— less than the amount of time you spend scrolling your Instagram feed—can make you happier, calmer & healthier. Studies have shown that a daily practice can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure & curb anxiety. It may even help you look younger. And who couldn’t use a little bit of all that!? 

“Meditation really is the antidote to stress,” says Chopra-certified meditation instructor Megan Monahan, Director of Meditation at Wanderlust Hollywood, a Los Angeles wellness haven that focuses on everything from meditation to nutrition. A host of not-so-fun things happen under stress: Your heart rate elevates, adrenaline pumps, blood pressure spikes & so does the hormone cortisol, which triggers oil production & acne breakouts. (Which only adds to your stress!) To top it off, high anxiety breaks down collagen, which means wrinkles & sagging skin. Ugh.

“When you meditate, you go into a state of restful awareness—the exact opposite of that reactive response,” she says. You’re grounded in the present moment, not engaging in future-tripping thoughts & worries. It slows down the turbulence of your mind—basically putting a Do Not Disturb sign on your brain.

The key to making meditation work: Just do it.

Ready to say buh-bye to an awful commute, that overflowing inbox or crazy coworkers? Make your own personalized mindful meditation session. Make it as long or short as you want. Use an app or don’t. Sit on a chair or on the floor. The key to making it work: Just do it. “Any meditation is better than none,” assures Megan.“And there’s no wrong way to do it because it’s your practice.”

Meditation 101: Creating a Customized Practice
If you’re a meditation newbie, it can feel a little weird at first. (Try sitting quietly for even 5 mins with no Snapchat, text or other distractions & you’ll see.) It may be helpful to take a class, either IRL or with an app.

It’s like working out with a trainer who can lead you through a simple routine. “I verbally guide my students into the practice: Connecting them with the sensation of their breath, quieting the mind, relaxing the physical body & starting to silently repeat a mantra,” says Megan. Guided meditation classes are offered at studios like Wanderlust in LA and MNDFL in New York City. But you can also do a guided meditation en casa with apps like Headspace or Insight, which are free to download.

Make The Time
Creating a ritual around your practice & doing it at the same time every day helps you keep up the habit. Megan recommends meditating first thing in the morning or when your workday ends.

Start Slowly
You’ll get the most benefits meditating for 20 mins once a day. If that seems daunting, set a timer for 5 mins & build it up over time. Remember, any meditation is better than no meditation!

Establish The Place
A quiet space without a lot of distractions is easier to meditate in, but it doesn’t need to be some dark, soundproof room with candles burning. Subway meditation is real! And necessary.

Take a Seat
You can be cross-legged, but if that position isn’t comfortable for you, then just sit upright in a chair with your spine elongated. Don’t lie down, since you’re likely to doze off. Rest your hands in your lap or on your legs. Palms facing down will be more grounding, which is helpful for beginners.

Find a Mantra
Most practices will have you focus on something likeyour breath or a mantra to repeat silently throughout your meditation. Megan uses the Sanskrit mantra “so hum.” But you can use whatever resonates with you. Your mantra will act as a tool (think of it like a hyperlink) to bring you back to stillness when your mind wanders. Just acknowledge it & practice gently bringing yourself back to that mantra over & over again.