A 20-Somethings Guide to Meditating

Meditation may sound like an easy way to relax for some, but as a high-strung, neurotic, caffeine-addicted gal it sounds as unattainable as climbing Mount Everest. In fact, a recent(ish) study done by the American Psychological Association in 2015 found that today’s young people (18 and 35 years old), are the most stressed out generation in history.

So, how the heck are we supposed to sit down, be quiet, and center ourselves?

Not to mention, meditation takes time. Not just time to sit down, create an environment, and then actually meditate…but time you might have been able to spend with friends, binging Netflix, or on a bumble date with that cute guy. As an extrovert, this was always one of the most difficult aspects of meditating. Typically, you need to mediate most when you are stressed and feeling unhinged…which is shortly after the work day ends. You know what else happens after the work day ends? Happy Hour. And it is hard for me to say no to some laughs and $5 Margarita in exchange for being alone in quiet solitude.

So, step one is making meditation a priority. Put it in your head on Sunday or Saturday night when you are going to meditate. Have a hectic Monday and a presentation Tuesday? “Book” yourself for a Monday night meditation hour. Put it on your calendar, don’t make any plans…considering yourself busy doing nothing is hard, but you have to make it a priority. Don’t make it something you can just cancel – hold yourself accountable.

Do a little bit of research. For meditation, I need a little bit of noise to drown out the drone of the city that surrounds my apartment. Some people prefer a guided meditation, but I found those to be a bit stressful. So, I opted for ambient noise. I mainly use A Soft Murmur, which allows you to “mix” soothing sounds like a crackling fire, waves breaking, a forest, and rain. I find that some noise helps separate you from the sounds you’re most used to, without being too distracting. Other people use mini-fountains, ambient noise machines, or, like I said, YouTube/ASMR/podcasts of guided meditations.

Developing a mantra is also something that helped me slow down, without totally being quiet. Finding your quote or repeatable phrase can be difficult. I tried a lot of things before I settled on two favorites, “I got this” and “So what?”. These are two phrases I say out loud, and sometimes in my head, as I ease into meditation. One of the toughest parts of meditation is to stop thinking about all the stuff you need to do, or should have done, or…anything negative. As these thoughts drift in and out of my head, I simply repeat those things until…well, I run through all the negatives.

Finally, don’t stress about time. Most people suggest you meditate for 30 minutes to an hour. But if you can only get to 15 minutes, hey, that’s better than nothing. Meditation should be totally unique to you. Even day-to-day might differ. Sometimes, I mediate for over an hour and close to 90 minutes depending on how much head-clearing I have to do. Other days, I only need 10 or 15 minutes to feel a bit more refreshed and in control. At the end of the day, no one should dictate your meditation or its quality except you.

-T