mariah slingerland

Are You Overthinking Meditation? Five Tips For Your Practice

Whether you are new to meditation, have a modest practice, or meditate regularly, it's important to keep it simple and let the energy flow naturally. Some days, it's a breeze. Other days, it's challenging. I find that getting back to a beginner's mind and some simple techniques helps me move along in my practice. Common questions I tend to hear:
“Isn’t meditation just concentrating? What does it mean to meditate anyway?”
 “I’ve heard it’s good for you, but I’m not really sure why. What are the benefits?”
 “Where and when is the best place to meditate?”
 “How long should I meditate if I’m just starting out?”

Are you nodding your head like “yep, I’ve had these same questions run through my mind”? Well, I’m here to answer some of these questions for you by providing 5 tips to help you move forward in your new meditation journey.

TIP 1: Refer to the A,B,C’s of meditation

A - Awareness:  Pay attention to your physical body. What happens to your body if you stop moving? Do you want to move? Does all of your attention go to physical aches and pains? Do you become agitated or can you find stillness?
B - Breath: Find the beauty in following your breath with the inhalation and the exhalation. Gently close your eyes and tune in to the subtle shifts that happen when you become aware of your breath.
C - Connection:  What is it that you are trying to connect to? From your inner voice, the God within, or your divine spark to the energy of peace or quieting the mind, take a moment to think about the connection you seek.
At its core, meditation is practicing awareness and calming the mind. It’s not so much concentrating on just any ol’ thing versus concentrating on an intention or mantra. With so many things vying for our attention every day, it might be challenging to settle into the meditation mindset in the first few minutes or to sit through the duration of meditation.
My first tip is to be aware of your physical body, let your breath be your guide, and think about what you want to connect to. Breathing just happens, so much so that we don’t even pay attention to it most the time. When we learn to control our breathing, we control our heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen intake. A great way to prepare yourself for meditation is to take 3-5 deep cleansing breathes. The next time you meditate, try and match your inhalations to your exhalations (3-count inhale, 3-count hold, 3-count exhale). It should feel like normal, calm breathing so use whatever count that works best with your breath cycle.

TIP 2: Write Down How You Feel After You Meditate

According to these EcoInstitute and Washington Post articles, meditation has been shown to:

• Reduce anger, anxiety, and stress
• Increase focus, mental clarity, and memory
• Increase compassion and empathy
• Increase self-relevance and mood regulation
Some people feel these effects immediately the first time meditating. For others, it can take months, even years. And, it’s also hard to tell exactly when these effects have taken place. Some of the most effective, deeper change I’ve witnessed have been students that have completed the yoga and meditation retreat that I guide.
My second tip is to write down how feel after meditating. Meditate everyday for 1 week (a minimum of 10 minutes). Afterwards, write down not only how you feel but if any other thoughts or feelings came up. After the week is over, see if you notice any patterns. Ask a friend or loved one if they notice anything different about you.

TIP 3: Meditate in a space that helps you relax and where you feel comfortable.

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again” - Joseph Campbell
The best place is as unique as each one of us. For some of us it’s a class with guided meditation, for others it’s sitting in a quiet room, under a favorite tree, the beach, surfing, in a yoga class, and so on. This is a place that speaks to you.
My third tip is to not worry so much about “where” meditation happens, rather, focus on conditions that allow time to tune out externally and tune in internally.

TIP 4: Meditation is most effective when you GROUND.

Grounding is the easiest and most effective way to calm the mind, body and spirit. I ground every morning as soon as I get out of bed and every evening before I go to bed. Grounding can be standing outside in the grass, sitting on the earth, or putting your feet in the ocean or water. Whatever you can do to put a smile on your face will help your practice be more effective.
My fourth tip for beginners is to do something that helps you gain some calm before meditation.

TIP 5: Start Small, Think Big.

Does sitting down for meditation feel like FOREVER?


Start SMALL. A common thing I hear is “I’m BAD at meditating” and “I can’t get other thoughts out of my head.” First, no one is bad at meditating. Everyone will always have thoughts. It’s what we do.

I like to give my thoughts (aka my monkey mind) a task. I have it count my inhalations, the holds, and the exhalations. Guided meditations are a good way to start because they usually give our monkey mind a task or something “to do” or “to follow”.
Start with a 10 minute daily practice. We can all afford 10 minutes as a small gift to ourselves. Some days you will most likely meet challenges. That is standard. Some of us will quit and others will stick with it. Don’t give up the benefits of meditation that are, in my experience, endless.

What can you take away from all of this?

I encourage and support you in your practice of meditation. I hope you find these five tips as great place to start or even refresh your practice.
We all could use some time to ourselves, to discover the deeper parts of us, and learn that our thoughts are our reality, and that meditation is for anyone and everyone who seeks to find the peace within.
Let’s recap the tips:
Tip 1: Refer to the A,B,C’s of meditation (Awareness, breath, and connection)
Tip 2: Write Down How You Feel After You Meditate
Tip 3: Meditate in a space that helps you relax and where you feel comfortable
Tip 4: Meditation is most effective when you GROUND
Tip 5: Start Small, Think Big.

The best time to start meditation is NOW.

Check out my YouTube Channel Healing Mariah for my Guided Meditation Series on the 7 Chakras. These are 10 minute or less guided meditations that are perfect for beginners meditation.

Do you need a journal for your meditation experience? Download my FREE 7-day Mantra Journal designed specifically for the guided meditations on my YouTube channel.

Namaste in India

Though thousands of miles from San Diego, my first time in India felt as if I had returned home. In fact from the moment I landed, something about India was so familiar, as if it were embedded in my DNA.

This will be my third trip this year. WHY you ask?

I’m fulfilling my soul’s longing to teach others
how to discover their truth.

As I visit India I will be exploring the sites for my next retreat (that's right, I'm hosting!) to INDIA!!! A full awakening of the body, mind and spirit. Details for the India Retreat will be coming soon, stay tuned. Until then, check out my upcoming San Diego retreat in May.

Planning an overseas trip can be daunting, especially if technology might be limited in the area or if you’re looking for an authentic and local experience. One thing that has really put my mind at ease is going with a group that can first-hand vouch for places and activities.

When my mind is at ease I can put all my attention on the journey.
The journey into the self.

I want to know that the place I’m staying meets my criteria of safe, clean, easily accessible or close proximity to certain places or things, and is a positive experience.

Having this part already figured out means I can focus more energy on the actual point of my stay --- to go deeper within, to discover the parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed. To show up and have all the details taken care of means the real work can begin.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I’m doing this for you! One of best ways I know how to serve others is to do some of the work for them. By exploring and experiencing the country, I’ve done the work to create a retreat that can deliver. That means turning the unknowns into the knowns.

There is no greater gift than journeying with someone who has “been there and done that!”

Get a feel for what the India retreat will be like by following along with my journey on Instagram @healingmariah.

I already know I’ll come back from India with so many great insights, techniques, and tools for integrated healing and how to guide you better. I’m looking forward to sharing these abundantly at my upcoming San Diego retreat May 5th-7th. I’d LOVE for you to join me. Get all the details on the Retreats page.