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Here's How To Make Meditation Less...Well, Boring

"Praying is talking to the Universe. Meditation is listening to it."—Paulo Coelho

Wellness

These are stressful times we're living in. Thankfully, there are some things that we can do to immediately relieve ourselves of worry, anxiety and built-up feelings of being completely overwhelmed. One of those things is to meditate. Now, before you try and find a billion of reasons why it's something that you should put off until, who knows when, it's important to keep in mind that it's very easy to do. It's all about finding a quiet spot, getting into a comfortable position and sitting in silence for 10-30 minutes at a time.

If you commit to doing this, even just a couple of times a week, there are scientific studies to support that it can (also) improve your ability to focus, cause you to be more empathetic to those around you, inspire you to be more creative, help you to make wiser decisions and strengthen your immune system. There is even research that states meditating can reduce symptoms related to phobias, help you to work through various addictions (like alcohol) and reduce your sensitivity to pain; meditation can even make you a more positive person.

If you just read all of that and was like, "I hear you Shellie, but meditation is just so boring to me," yeah, I hear you too. First, let me say that sometimes meditating can be a struggle because some of us don't know how to freakin' be still sometimes. Second, sometimes meditating can feel like it's on the ho-hum side of life. To that I'll just say that 1) it's not supposed to be like a day at Six Flags (remember that) and 2) there is not just one way to meditate.

In the spirit of that, below, I've enclosed a few things you can do to help make meditating less of an "ugh" (less boring) and more of an "oh!" (more fun) activity for you.

Buy Yourself a “Meditation Outfit”

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It's funny. Kinda. What I'm referring to is the people I know who struggle with meditating are also the people who tend to struggle with getting a good night's rest too. When I ask them what their routine typically consists of, if there's one thing that they have in common is, they go to bed looking a hot mess, only to roll out of bed in the same tired leggings and raggedy T-shirt to attempt to meditate. SMDH.

Purchasing some new pajamas and an outfit to meditate in isn't about being frivolous. On the sleep tip, you are going to be in, whatever you're wearing, for 6-9 hours a night. You can be cute while you're comfortable (especially if you're sharing your bed with someone else). As far as meditation goes, I'm sure you've heard that if you dress for success, you tend to perform better. The same theory applies to meditating. If you have an outfit that's specifically reserved for meditation, not only can it make you feel better about doing it, it can also get you excited in a way. If you get a couple pair of yoga pants (like these knit yoga ones, girrrl) and some cute tank tops, you might be surprised by the pep that comes in your step as you sit down on your yoga mat.

Incorporate a Scent That You Enjoy

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As I was checking out an article that shared some of the reasons why our sense of smell is so important to our everyday lives, one of the things it shared was it helps us to tap deeper into our emotional state. It even went so far as to state that, a part of the reason why the perfume industry is such a lucrative one is because, they spend a lot of money researching what scents will provoke certain feelings and desires. So yeah, making sure you've got just the right scent happening during your meditation, that can also spark some additional interest in meditating.

For instance, the woodsy scent of sandalwood has quite the reputation for igniting inner spiritual work and chakra balance. The musky scent of patchouli can keep you calm and grounded. Lavender is a fabulous de-stressor. The combination of frankincense and myrrh will help to purify your senses while encouraging you to release anxiety. The floral scent of neroli is not only an aphrodisiac, but it also helps to remove negative emotions and can even decrease depression-related symptoms and insomnia.

All you need to do is purchase these essential oils to put on your wrists or in a diffuser, or you can buy some soy candles that are made up of these scents.

The more you study essential oils and aromatherapy, the more you'll find yourself looking forward to picking just the right scent to go along with whatever you want meditation to provide for you, on any given day.

Play “Non-Triggering” Music

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When it comes to meditation and music, different "experts" have different perspectives. While some think that sounds will do nothing but distract you, others believe that it's all about selecting the right kind of music. When you do, it can calm your mind, release stress, improve your level of concentration, make you feel more positive and, if you meditate before turning in at night, it can help you to sleep more soundly too.

The key is to avoid the kind of music that will trigger any type of negativity. Like, if you recently broke up with your man, you probably don't need to meditate to the playlist he made for you. Instead, instrumental music, soft jazz, even nature sounds are things that can definitely put you in good spirits and keep you from feeling like you're just…sitting around and doing nothing but listening to yourself breathe (especially if you're new to meditating).

Switch Up Meditation Spots

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No one said that you've got to be in the same spot, every time you meditate. If you like the sound of rain, on rainy days, sit in front of the biggest window in your house. If sometimes, you want to meditate in the nude (a lot of people do it), find a spot in your home where you feel the most comfortable and the least self-conscious. If you and your partner are trying to get into meditating more, on the days when you do it together, maybe have some morning sex first and then meditate in your bedroom after. By not always being in the same space, this also can make meditating feel a lot less…monotonous.

Count to 100

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The site About Meditation has a great tip if you're someone who is always thinking about all of the other things that you could be doing as you attempt to meditate. It says that you should try counting to 100. By focusing solely on the numbers, it will keep your mind from wandering. It will also get you used to sitting still for longer than a couple of minutes because, you know that you at least need to get to 100, right? You can read more on why this is an effective tip by clicking here.

Write Your Own Mantra

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In Hinduism, a mantra is simply a word or phrase that you sing or chant in order to get into a space of peace and calm. Based on the word (or phrase) that you choose, it can also be pretty empowering. So, why not come up with your own customized mantra?

Think about a goal that you want to achieve, a habit that you want to break or an area where you want to feel better about yourself and then find a word (or phrase) that suits that desire. Knowing that there is time you are planning to set aside, on a daily basis, to make you feel better about yourself—what could possibly be even remotely boring about that?

Get a Meditation Partner

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No one said that, just because you are meditating, you have to do it alone. In fact, there are several benefits that can come with getting someone to meditate with you. They can hold you accountable to the days that you plan to meditate. Meditating with someone can teach you how to be comfortable being in the presence of others and being silent at the same time. Another perk that comes with meditating alongside another person is they can teach you meditation tricks and offer tips that you might have never heard before. And, if you make plans to get together before or after your meditation session, it can give you something to look forward to as well. You can get together to meditate in the same space or you can hit a friend up on something like Skype or Google Hangout and do it that way.

Journal About It Before and/or After

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If you're someone who is very goal-oriented, you might struggle with meditation because you're like, "OK, so I'm sitting here not doing anything. What is the friggin' point?" Since you may not automatically see the health benefits that come from this kind of practice, it might help for you to get a journal that is completely devoted to meditating. You can either jot down the things that are concerning you before doing it, write down the thoughts that immediately come to your mind after you meditate, or you can do a combination of both. It doesn't have to be a novella; a few sentences are fine. But if you get into the habit of writing down your thoughts, feelings and experiences surrounding meditation, you may start to see some documented proof of why it was such a good thing for you to do. And—surprise, surprise—how it stopped being so "boring", after all.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

7 Apps For Guided Meditation For The Woman Fighting To Find Peace Of Mind

The Best Meditation Practices For Your Zodiac Sign

Powerful Mantras & Meditation Techniques For Mindful Mamas

What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation'?

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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This article is in partnership with Staples.

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