In our increasingly busy and stressful lives, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the things we don’t have, as opposed to what we do. Not getting enough likes on an Instagram post (especially when that granola breakfast you prepared looked so yummy!) or getting overlooked for a raise at work can send even the most level-headed among us into a spiral.
But, by giving yourself just a few minutes every day to meditate with a focus on contentment, you’ll not only be able to find peace within yourself, but also change how you see the world around you.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of meditation or it’s already part of your everyday routine, Sylvia Maldonado, founder of the meditation and wellness service Breathe Bar in Chicago, says you can start small and work your way up to what you want to achieve.
Choose the Right Meditation Style for You
Maldonado, who started her daily meditation routine at just three minutes a day, suggests that you first find what practice works best for you and your learning style.
For some, meditation apps on phones work best, while others learn from teachers in a class. “Once you have your goal and motivation and baseline, then you can have your own practice at home,” she Maldonado says.
Once you find what style of meditation suits you and your lifestyle, you should expose yourself to different kinds of meditation as well, including mantra, mindfulness, breath work, and gratitude, among others.
Create a Meditation Space
Maldonado recommends creating a designated space in your home for meditation practice that makes you feel the most relaxed. After all, meditation should be something you look forward to. Light candles or put on essential oils, if that is something that brings you serenity.
“You simply want to position yourself for success,” she says. “Your spot doesn’t have to be on a cushion on the floor, especially if you have back or knee issues.”
If you choose to meditate in a chair, for instance, Maldonado says to plant your feet on the ground, keep your palms by your side (either facing up or down), and keep your back straight.
Practice Meditation for Contentment
Depending on the time you want to set for yourself (once you get into a routine, anything from five to 15 minutes is a reasonable goal), you are now ready to achieve contentment in your everyday life.
It’s a goal that Maldonado believes is an important one to aspire to. “Contentment is a really powerful word,” she says. “Contentment is different than happiness; it’s a way of being and an attitude that radiates its own positivity.”
Oftentimes, Maldonado points out, we get stuck in the what-ifs and possible future scenarios, rather than being in the here and now. “We’re swirling with these thoughts and that can be really stressful and drain energy and headspace.”
Meditating on contentment can “liberate you from all that made-up stuff,” she says. “It’s discernment between preparing for various scenarios and letting it take over.”
Contentment meditation can be something as simple as being grateful for your morning cup of coffee or appreciating all the loved ones in your life. “There’s no judgment for what you’re grateful for in that moment or that day,” Maldonado says.
The 5-3-1 Meditation Technique
One particular exercise Maldonado likes for contentment meditation is the 5-3-1 technique, in which you meditate for five minutes, write down three things you’re grateful for, and do one good deed every day (1).
Whether you do some variation of the 5-3-1 technique or your own brand of meditation, Maldonado recommends incorporating writing exercises, as it “reinforces the practice and the result can be a lot more powerful.”