The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

The 7th Secret: Sit Down, Shut Up & Be Silent

boy meditating

If there is one thing that really smart people throughout the years have figured out, it’s that a key to happiness is quieting our minds and basically giving ourselves a break. We are surrounded by constant noise and stimulation in our lives and our poor little brains are just about on overload all the time. Wouldn’t it be nice to just shut down and take a break from the world now and then? I know turning off your smart phone may actually sound stressful but yes, I’m suggesting that you even take a break from that.

I’m obviously not the first nor will I be the last to talk about the importance of meditation. What’s nice is that while people have been practicing meditation since, well forever, we now have the power of science supporting meditation too. It turns out that, over the years, really smart people have documented the all the health and emotional benefits of meditation. I say all this just so you don’t think you have to take my word for it (even though I am a scientist which must count for something right!?)

I encourage you to google the positive effects of meditation but I’m here to tell you that ultimately, meditation will make you happy and that’s why meditation is the 7th Secret to a happy life.

Secret #7: Meditate.

 I’m sharing this secret with you now while you’re a teenager for a few reasons:

1. If you get good at this now, you will reap all the benefits now and when you’re older.

2. The more you practice now, the easier it will be when you get older and you can start to make a habit of it which will make being an adult that much easier. Trust me on this because I still suck at meditating.

3. It’s a powerful tool to get over and through all the drama of your teenage years. Who doesn’t want a tool to escape all the crap you have to deal with every day?

4. Your grades will get better because concentrating will be easier which means studying will be easier as will focusing on tests.

5. You will be able to tell your parents to chill out and meditate when they’re getting on your nerves. Why not help them even if they’re never shared this secret with you? I mean really, a more chill parent has got to be a benefit right?

But I Don’t Live on a Mountain so Now What?

I’m sure if you’re like most people you hear the word “meditate” and immediately picture a monk sitting in the mountains with his legs crossed and his eyes closed for hours at a time (ok, maybe I’m just most people but that’s what I picture). I’m here to tell you that meditation can actually be pretty darn simple and that even quick, simple quiet moments have big rewards.

There are tons of wonderful websites and articles and books and magazines out there on how to meditate but I thought I’d break it down and just give you 5 steps to get you started.

 5 Simple Steps to Meditation

 Step 1 – Sit.

Sit in a chair or on the floor or on your bed with your back straight. In fact, you can sit basically wherever you want but do NOT LIE DOWN! While you may in fact fall asleep while you’re meditating (and that’s ok if you do – don’t judge yourself), meditation is actually about making yourself more conscious of yourself, your thoughts and the very moment you are in. Getting into bed and under the covers to meditate is just not going to work so don’t cheat yourself.

Step 2 – Shhhh!

Find a quiet place. People who practice meditation all the time are also probably pretty good at being able to meditate just about anywhere but when you’re just starting out, give yourself a fighting chance by being someplace where you won’t be distracted by noise.

Step 3 – Breathe.

Now that you’re sitting in a nice quiet place, it’s time to start relaxing. One of the easiest things to do is to just focus on your breath. Become aware of breathing in and breathing out. Breathe deeply! Fill our lungs, push out your belly (no one is looking!) and suck in that air! Then, slowly blow it out of your mouth and feel your body sink into relaxation. Every time your mind starts to wander (which it will do immediately because that little voice in your head just hates not to be the center of attention), just bring your focus back to your breath.

Step 4 – Count.

Once you can feel yourself starting to relax, try counting as you breathe. One, two, three – in. One, two, three – out. Or count to four or five if you’ve got big lungs! Counting helps to relax you further and also gives your mind something else to do.

Step 5 – Focus.

Meditation really is all about focusing and becoming aware. You can focus on your breath. You can focus on counting. You can focus on a single word or a phrase like “Love” or “Peace” or even “Ahhhhh.” The key is just to keep your mind focused on something and to keep bringing your mind back to that something. If you’re like most normal people, as soon as you close your eyes your mind will start running through 1000 different things from the homework you have to do to the TV show you want to watch to what’s happening on Twitter. That’s totally and completely normal but that’s when you can just bring your focus back to breathing and counting or a single thought to silence that craziness for a minute or two.

That’s it. You’re meditating. Experts might disagree with me but I actually think that even if you can just be quiet for a second or two, there is a benefit. I’ve talked before about practicing present moment awareness and that remains an important tool even if you can’t meditate. Just stopping your mind from being in the past or future and being fully present wherever you are is like a mini-meditation!

So there you have it, the 6th Secret to living a happy life. Sit down, shut up and meditate.

Namaste my friends.

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