User Post: MizFit Meditation: A few minutes a day to a less maniacal me

For many moms, exercise is shoved to the bottom of the to-do list beneath what seems like every.single.other.task.

If you're a regular MizFit reader, Im deluded enough to believe you're less likely than the masses to skip entire workouts--but may find yourself, as I know I often do, faced with a time-shortened routine as a result of, well, LIFE.

(If by (fingerquote) LIFE (unFQ) you mean ToddlerDogsHusbandWorkLaundry----which I do.)

You are (if you're anything like I am) given no choice but to opt for a frantic sweat-inducing sprint over a serene ninety minute yoga session simply because you have too!much!to!do!

I recently vowed to change that for myself and I invite you to join me.

I decided to no longer create a more manic MizFit, by virtue of a frenetic workout session, and chose to add a stress-relieving activity to my rushed repertoire: meditation.

I've always acknowledged the value of meditation for other people I just hadn't bothered to make space for it in my workout routine.

I'd erroneously assumed that, even for beginners, meditation would have a steep learning curve and be time too time consuming for this waaaay impatient already pressed-for-time mom.

This past month I learned I'd been entirely wrong in my assumption and, in the spirit of Om Shaking Up My Workout Routine 2009, wanted to share with you reality check.

Before starting took time to explore exactly what defined meditation.

I knew my mental image of a blissfully chanting monk was more stereotype than reality, but I'd no clue what the reality was.

I quickly found much of the information focused on what occurred in the brain during meditation. This made complete sense. If my goal was to lessen life-stress stemming from an inability to turn off my brain (anyone else? normalize for me, People!), then inside the cranium was a natural place to begin.

Our brains serve as the hub of our body's activities. They adapt to demands placed on them by adjusting electrical impulses to meet our needs. If these impulses were placed on a spectrum: REM sleep would be one end, daytime alertness on the other, and slower activities, like daydreaming about vacations, would fall in the middle.

When we meditate we are, in essence, slowing our brainwaves from full tilt to mid-spectrum. This calm state, or alpha brain activity, triggers tremendous physical relaxation yet doesn't impact one's awareness in the same fashion as sleep. This in-between condition is precisely why we don't emerge from meditation feeling groggy, as can happen post-nap.

Armed with that knowledge and a list of the four crucial elements to successful meditation, location, body position, mantra and breathing, I was ready to start my experiment.

Location-I chose to use the same space repeatedly in an effort to link that location with the new, Zen MizFit. More important, however, is a space where you won't be disturbed and where you can manipulate the lighting. Somewhere quiet and, I learned the hard way, not filled with distracting sights. The longer one meditates the less small distractions matter, but as a beginner I required a dark, silent setting.

Body position
-Initially, à la my monk image, I tried meditating on the floor using pillows. Not surprisingly, I discovered there can exist a too comfortable meditation position. My first attempts practically lulled me to sleep and helped me realized the reason comfortably erect is often used to describe meditation posture. I switched to a chair until I could create a floor position which allowed me to consciously meditate and relax. A position where I felt calm yet not close to sleep.

-Admittedly, I've been known to mock the notion of a mantra. There's just something verging on comical, to me anyway, about chanting a thought or phrase repeatedly. Sort of like how, when you say any word over and over, it begins to lose its meaning. (Try it using the word fork. I'll wait.) That is to say I scoffed at mantras until I attempted to meditate without one. Even in the serene setting I'd created, my brain quickly zoomed back to the worries of my day. This distracted state, often referred to as monkey mind, is precisely the reason new meditators select a word, image, phrase or feeling upon which to focus during their practice. When I began focusing on my mantra it provided me a way to redirect my attention when my exceedingly active monkey mind attempted to wander.

-The final piece to my meditation puzzle was, for me, the most pivotal. Controlling my breath made all the difference in my reaping the benefits of meditation. The mental image of exhaling my worries while inhaling calm, tranquil air allowed me to virtually feel my blood pressure lowering. It's suggested one inhale deeply through nose, hold your breath for a second or two, and exhale slowly through your mouth. This breathing pattern is one I've already returned to, during non-meditating times, to alleviate life-stress.

Believe me, I'm aware this all sounds too simple to be true, but it's not.

Ten minutes a day, unplugged *completely* from the outside world, and tuned into oneself is all it takes.

Even the Ren Man was shocked at how, in this brief amount of time, I became more focused, patient and, Ill admit, self-aware.

I also gained insight into how to control my stress during nonmeditating times and (to my shockmazement) rapidly found myself addicted to my new Zen pursuit.

What began in March as ten minutes once a day quickly transitioned into ten-minute sessions both morning and evening.

Admittedly, there are many more advanced methods and approaches to meditation. There isnt, however, an approach which is a better fit for MY lifestyle right now.

As with all exercise the best way is the way/form is the one you will ACTUALLY DO.

And you?

Are you already a meditating machine? Please to hit us up in the comments with your This Way To Zen tips & suggestions.

Still cynical about Oming your way to better health & stress-free living? Please to join us in the commentversation as well.

I'll see you there...

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[photo credit: Getty Images]