A few years ago when I first began seeing a counselor for my trichotillomania, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc., one of the first things he suggested was mindfulness meditation. At that time I had never heard of it, but now it seems like that term, mindfulness, is everywhere. The Harvard Business Review just published an article on the subject today, as a matter or fact.

But there is a reason we’re hearing about it more. Many reasons, actually. Meditation has been proven to help with anxiety and depression, increase focus and better deal with your emotions.

I’ll admit, I have not been able to get myself into a steady meditation routine. I tried it for a few weeks then stopped for awhile, decided to try to start again and then stopped again. But I’m happy to say that I am in an “on” period and I have been meditating every day for the last week.

Here’s how to start:

Find a quiet place where you feel safe and comfortable and can be without interruptions (being a mom, I know how hard that is, believe me. I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself 🙂

Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. I try to keep my posture straight so that I can get the full benefit of the relaxation and deep breathing.

Take a deep breath, a “belly breath” in through your nose, then exhale through your mouth. Do this several times at your own pace. As you breathe, pay attention to how the air feels as it expands and leaves your lungs. Notice the sound of your breath.

Feel the weight of your body. Feel the weight of your “sit bones” on your chair. Simply try to feel your presence in that moment.

I like to take turns focusing on my senses. My favorite is sound. I close my eyes and, after a few deep breaths, focus only on the sounds I can hear . . . a dog barking nearby, children giggling as they walk home from school, the wind in the tree branches and the rush of the river in front of me. Try to then isolate these sounds one by one.

Your mind will wander. That’s OK. When it does just try to rein it back in to your breath or the sounds around you. After a few moments it’s almost like being in a deep sleep.

After you’ve practiced meditation for awhile, you’ll start to key in on sounds more acutely, even when you are not meditating. Things you may have not heard or noticed before will pop up.

I have found many great tips and articles on meditation at http://www.mindful.org/

I have found, after some practice, that the world moves more slowly, I’m more relaxed overall. I don’t have such a tightness in my chest or arms. Things don’t bother me as much any more and I just generally feel more relaxed.

I feel that this has had an ever so slight affect on my hair pulling. I still do it every day, but I am more aware of it. At this point though, I’ve been doing it so long that it’s pretty much literally wired into my brain. How does one rewire their own brain? It’s possible, I know, and I am holding on to that.

I have a special place where I go to meditate during the work day. My biggest obstacle with continuing the daily meditation is being able to leave work long enough to do it. My boss does not care if a person wants to go outside for a brisk walk, in fact he encourages exercise, but it was my own guilt, the “I have too many things to do” that prevented me from doing it. If you are in a similar position I say to you take care of yourself. You’ve spent so much time taking care of other people’s needs, you need to take a few minutes a day at least for yourself.

I am lucky enough to have a river and city bike path only a few blocks away from my office. Each day at about 3 in the afternoon, when I am starting to feel the most sluggish, I walk down to the trail and to a little outlook next to the river. There is a bench and nice area to overlook the river and the mountains.

There have been a pair of ducks floating around the last few days — a male and a female. Last year there were little baby ducks so I hope to see more this spring! There are also these rock chucks that hang out in the lava rocks that were put along the edges of the river to form a natural levy. They too have been out quite a bit the last few days. They sun themselves on the rocks and race around. They are very alert little critters. When they hear me or anyone else approaching their heads poke up and they hold perfectly still until they feel comfortable again. When they hold still they are really hard to see against the rock.

Here are some pictures of my meditation space. I’ll update when more progress soon.

Peaceful hands.

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A rock chuck coming out to lay in the sun.

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The duck couple. I wonder if they are on their honeymoon.

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