We recently held an 'Ask Me Anything' community event where DoYouYoga readers were given a chance to ask the amazing Faith Hunter any questions they had about meditation and the 30-Day Meditation Challenge.
For all those who missed out on the event, don't fret! Here are some of the questions from the community, paraphrased and simplified. Check them out in case some of them echo yours as well!
1. Can meditation really change your entire outlook on things? I've been super stressed lately due to college and it's been really affecting me. Will meditation help me like I hope it will?
Submitted by @amandamsikoral
Faith: Meditation helped me effectively deal with the death of my brother and father. It has given me strength in the most difficult times, and has provided me with comfort and loving thoughts. If you step into meditation with an open mind and a positive desire, I'm sure it can help!
2. Are there any supplemental books or other resources you would recommend we look at before beginning the course?
Submitted by @aimeceleste
Faith: I think the best thing is to show up on Day One without any preconceived thoughts. There are numerous resources, but I recommend just being present on Day 1 with an open mind!
3. I’ve started meditating in baby steps but I find sitting for more than 5 minutes so difficult! Any tips on how to quiet my mind for longer periods?
Submitted by @adecker91
Faith: I know exactly what you are dealing with. I suggest 1. Focus on the breath, 2. Repeat a word or statement over and over in your mind, 3. Listen to a guided meditation. Hope one of these techniques helps.
One last thought, if you can only do 5 minutes, that's better than nothing. Stay consistent with that, then begin adding 1 minute each week.
4. Recently I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I’ve heard yoga can help a person overcome this. Do you think meditation could help as well?
Submitted by @gabrielgapko
Faith: YES! Meditation can help with your chronic fatigue. There's been research demonstrating the mental and physical benefits. Mostly, it can help to reduce the symptoms. In addition, it can help with improving sleep, reduce stress, and increase energy.
5. When in simple cross-legged pose, I get pain in my neck, back, and shoulder blades. Can you suggest yoga poses to strengthen the tight areas, tips for holding my body properly, or alternatives to the pose itself?
Submitted by @sarah-lapointe
Faith: I would first suggest sitting against a wall, you can also extend your legs straight. If you are still feeling uncomfortable, try sitting in a chair with a straight back or meditating on your back. I sometimes practice meditation after my yoga practice. At this time my body is warm, and there’s less tension in my knees, hips, and shoulders.
6. How do you stay present while meditating? How do you turn off all the fuss of the day and not just think about how you’re *supposed* to be focusing on your breath?
Submitted by @twelton
Faith: The two major techniques I typically suggest are focusing on the breath, or focusing on a statement or word. These two approaches give you the opportunity to direct the thoughts.
If these aren’t working for you, I would then suggest guided visualization. Some of the meditations in the challenge are guided visualizations. This approach paints a story of the listener, and you are able to focus on the words of the guide.
7. What has been your greatest life lesson learned to date, as a result of your meditation practice?
Submitted by @akafoxybrown
Faith: I started meditating during a very difficult time in my life. It helped decompress, heal my heart from suffering, and calmed my mind. I’ve also done lots of intention setting in the years of meditating.
Setting intentions have helps me maintain a feeling of self-worth, giving me the confidence to pursue my goals. Thanks for asking a personal question. I love sharing stuff like this!
8. 10 minutes into seated meditation, my right side hip breaks the quiet. Could you guide me into a position that may facilitate a longer meditation time?
Submitted by @fam2smith
Faith: I would first suggest moving the body prior to your meditation practice. Doing hip-opening and spinal twisting yoga postures for about 15-30 minutes can make you feel better. If this doesn't work, you can also recline your back. Hope this helps!
9. I have bipolar disorder and rely on meditation for my mental health and wellbeing. How can I heal through meditation when my mind has become a mean place to sit? How do I befriend my mind again and make meditation a happy experience?
Submitted by @iamzsalazar
Faith: Thanks for sharing such an honest and open statement.
The good part is that you know meditation has the ability to shift and nurture our minds. I would suggest to stay on task. I'm not sure which meditation technique you are using, but there may be a reason to shift to something that will create a feeling of self-love and compassion of self.
I find that mantra meditation (stating a word or phrase) puts me in a different state of being and feeling. I have experienced self-doubt and insecurity, and during those periods of my life, I continue to meditate even though my heart was heavy and my mind was distracted.
Stay with it! Also, during the 30-day challenge, I have more than one meditation that focuses on self-love, openness, compassion, self-worth, forgiveness, and gratitude. These will truly be helpful.
10. What meditation techniques can we use during activities such as running, cycling, etc., and is this is a good way to practice meditation?
Submitted by @jpdave
Faith: Many runners and cyclists experience this state of meditation at different points in their activity. With that thought, meditation can easily be folded into daily life. When we focus on the breath and approach the activity with intentional focus that creates a feeling of harmony and balance, this is meditation.
Meditation does not always have to happen seated. I meditate walking in the park, practicing yoga, and even arranging flowers in my home. Just as long we direct our attention in a mindful manner, engage the breath, and create a feeling of calmness, we are able to add meditation into our daily lives.
**Some questions have been edited for brevity and clarity.