Starting a meditation practice can be a daunting experience for some. Sit this way. Don’t think. Stay here for an hour.
This article is for those of you who have never tried meditation or don’t know much about it. I have outlined the basic elements of meditation that will give you an overview and simple ways to get started with your daily practice.
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
In the most basic sense, it is being still, relaxing, clearing the mind or focusing awareness and attention. You can simply use meditation as a means of clearing your mind, balancing your emotions, or reducing anxiety. You can also use it to set your intentions for the day and close out your day.
Meditation has been connected to spiritual and religious practices for millennia. Your reasons for meditating do not have to be associated with either.
Scientifically, regularly meditating has been shown to:
- Decrease blood pressure
- Reduce stress
- Control anxiety
- Improve sleep and much, much more.
WHERE TO MEDITATE
You can meditate anywhere that is comfortable, quiet, and free from distractions. Sitting up is preferred because when we meditate it is so relaxing that falling asleep is very likely.
Now, if you’re doing an evening meditation before falling asleep, lying down in bed is optimal.
WHEN TO MEDITATE
Morning meditations are a good way to set the tone for the day. By beginning your day in a calm and relaxed way, you are cementing your intentions for a balanced and clear day.
You can also counteract stress by slowing your breath and calming the mind before starting your day.
Evening meditations are a great way to relax your mind from your busy day. You can use it as a gratitude session for all the things you are grateful for in general and from the events of the day.
It also helps to relax your body from the tension and stress of the day so you are able to fall asleep easily.
Take mini meditations whenever you need to. A quick two or three-minute meditation in a quiet place can help calm you and relax your mind instantly.
You don’t necessarily have to close your eyes, just focus on a particular point or object.
HOW LONG TO MEDITATE
As a beginner, it is my suggestion that you start with five minutes. Just test it out to see how you do. You can focus on your breath or a particular sound (like birds outside your window) or play instrumental music that lasts five minutes.
As you start to get into the groove of your daily practice, you can increase it to whatever feels right for you. Some people don’t have a lot of time to themselves in the morning or right before they go to bed.
Tailor your meditation time and place to what suits your lifestyle.
When doing any sitting meditation, it is necessary to have a straight back with your head and back in alignment. This helps with the flow of energy in your body.
If it takes a lot of effort to sit straight, consider propping pillows behind you. If you are sitting on the floor, you can put your back against the front of your sofa or chair.
There are meditation pillows that help with posture, especially if you are sitting for extended periods of time or have back issues.
FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS
There are many ways to maintain good focus while meditating. Here are a few suggestions.
- Your breath – Focus on your natural inhales and exhales. Listen to your breath. Feel the flow of your abdomen.
- Listen to music – Focus on a particular instrument or sound
- Guided meditation – Pick a topic for your meditation and be guided through it.
- Visualization – Make a mind movie of what you desire whether it be health, wealth, relationship, or anything else. See yourself taking the steps to get there and/or the outcome.
As beginners and even veteran meditators can attest to, there is still the challenge of keeping our thoughts at bay during our sessions.
If many thoughts start coming in while meditating, try thinking of each thought as a cloud that just floats away. Then, you can return to the focus in the session.
KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
If you find your thoughts floating in and out and you’re not able to concentrate, that’s okay. Simply bring your focus back to your intentions.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a seemingly successful session. We are all human and sometimes it can be a challenge. Realize, though, anything that you’re doing to better yourself and your life is a great achievement.
If you come out of your meditation early or just can’t seem to focus, that’s fine, try again later or the next day. As you continue with regular, daily practice, it will get easier.
Keeping a positive, can-do attitude goes a long way in keeping your ‘spirits’ up to continue to do better.
YOU’LL LOOK FORWARD TO IT
Meditating is a rewarding and fulfilling practice that can be used for religious, spiritual, or personal development purposes. There are many meditation benefits that you will begin to see with regular practice.
Start your sessions with five minutes. Don’t try to start your initial meditation practice at an hour-long stretch.
Ease into it; make it a welcoming practice, not something that is forced or just to do. Among other things, you will find it comforting, healing, and refreshing.