When the heat of summer descends, the everyday stresses of life may quickly seem too hot to handle. On a sweltering day, even minor chores - such as packing a healthy lunch or taking out the garbage - may feel like enormous tasks. Heat can drain our energy reserves, and if you are already busy balancing work and family life, you can end up feeling burnt out.
But it is possible to find calm, even when the heat and busyness of summer seem overwhelming. Meditation is a simple practice that offers you a chance to relax and escape the heat, while you free your mind from the sources of your stress. Even if you have never tried meditation before, it's easy to get started. Once you learn the basics of where, when and how to meditate - and make time for a couple short meditation sessions - you may find that you feel more relaxed and better prepared to handle any challenge that summer throws your way.
Pick a Cool, Calming Place
One of the most important elements of a meditation session is picking a place where you will be able to focus without interruption. The fewer distractions around you, including the heat, the better you'll be able to relax and take a break from the stresses of daily life.
Seek out a cool room indoors or a shaded grassy area outside, where you can allow your body to cool down. If you opt to stay indoors, make sure to stay away from tempting distractions - such as televisions or computers. It's ideal to find a quiet spot, but often it's impossible to tune out all noise completely. Don't worry if you can't find a place that is silent. Part of meditation is learning to focus your mind even when background noise threatens to interrupt.
Sneak in the Time
You don't need to meditate for very long for it to be effective. Even a few minutes of meditation can be enough to help you reduce your stress levels. Try to carve out some time to meditate in the morning before your commitments begin, or in the evening before you go to bed. You can even make time for a brief meditation session during a lunch or coffee break.
Experiment with Different Techniques
The goal of meditation is to focus your attention, which allows your mind to take a break from whatever might be worrying you. There are many styles of meditation, all of which offer stress-reducing benefits. Try exploring a few different techniques to find the one that works best for you:
Mantra meditation involves repeating a soothing word or phrase in your thoughts, to keep your mind from distraction. You might try the traditional mantra of "Om" or substitute it for a word, quote, or prayer that has personal significance to you.
Try to focus on the natural flow of your breath, as you inhale and exhale. Any time your mind wanders, guide it back to the soothing, natural rhythm of your breathing.
Begin by focusing on your body and any sensations you might discover. Do you feel tightness? Heat? Any sore spots? Next, turn your focus to your breath. Visualize your breath, and imagine that you are breathing in relaxation and breathing out the tension in every part of your body.
This is a good option for those who have difficulty sitting still or who can't bare to be inside on a beautiful day. Go for a walk, but instead of focusing on a particular destination, focus on the process and sensation of walking. What do you feel under your feet? What is the natural movement of your legs?
Put It in Practice: Start Meditating This Summer
The hot days of the summer weather can take a toll on our stress levels. Escape the heat and make time to explore your mind by starting to practice meditation on a regular basis. Meditation is a simple, portable way to focus your mind, and help alleviate the effects of stress. Moreover, you don't need to devote hours to meditation to enjoy some moderate benefits; even taking short breaks to meditate can go a long way toward making your summer calmer and cooler.