Updated: Dec 5, 2020
Learning to meditate was not really on my radar not so long ago. I wondered about it and, yes, I could list a handful of people in my “circle” that meditate. Some of them have done this for years. But I never considered asking them about how they got started, and none of them ever offered to see if I might even be interested in learning how. It kept coming up for me, though.
I got more curious about it. I was introduced to more people who meditated and some of them actually asked me, “do you meditate?” My answer was, “no – but I think I’d like to get into it someday.”
And then I did.
Today, meditation is almost a household word. And there are more and more people who are learning the benefits of meditation. Benefits like reducing stress, depression and anxiety. It can help improve sleep and can bring focus into your daily life to make you feel more balanced. In fact, more and more doctors are suggesting meditation to their patients.
There are so many different types of meditation to choose from – guided, unguided, insight (Vipassana), focused attention, loving kindness (metta), and more. No wonder people don’t know where or how to start.
As someone who is just beginning with meditation, it might be reassuring to know that you’re not alone. Meditation is something that people of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels can master. You don’t have to make it a “chore,” either. It should be something you actually look forward to. You make it what you want, and everyone meditates in a way that serves them in their own way. Make it a good fit for YOU.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a way to practice being mindful, or practicing mindfulness. It’s about being still as it teaches you how to sit with the thoughts that run through your mind, or with the feelings or body sensations that you may feel while seated in silence. Meditation allows these experiences to simply exist without reacting to them.
With meditation, you learn to acknowledge any thoughts or sensations that come up, that none of these are “right or wrong,” and then create a space in your mind to let go of what was and what even will be….to just be present in the moment. With meditation, you also learn to set intentions into your practice so you can be more focused on accomplishing what you want in your day to day living, or even what you want out of life.
Is there a simple way to start?
BEGIN - with a space that feels comfortable for you. This can be in your home, your office, outside or anywhere that is quiet and where you won’t be disturbed. Make it how you want with spiritual surroundings or keep it simple and as it is. Don’t over do it. Keep it relaxed and make sure to keep it accessible.
SIT – on a cushion, pillow, yoga mat or something that keeps your knees from being higher than your hips to keep your back from becoming uncomfortable. You may sit cross legged or not. Don’t feel you have to master the lotus position to meditate. Keep a straight back. Leaning against a wall might be your thing. A chair may also work (make sure your feet touch the floor for better support).
BREATHE – with an intention of focusing on the breath. Feel the breath going in and out of your lungs. Notice if your breath is shallow or full. Do you breath with your lungs rising and falling or do you breath more with the belly? Imagine the air filling your lungs and then exhaling the air out of your lungs. Picture yourself breathing. Inhale and in your mind, count “one”….exhale and count “two”….etc. Whatever helps to keep your focus on your breath….do that. Your breath is your balance…your center…your anchor. If your mind wanders off (and it will – that’s normal), just come back to the breath. Always…..come back….to the breath.
COUNTING - each breath can give your mind something else to think about – to distract it from all kinds of other thoughts that try to race around in your mind. Not being able to sit still and keep a focus is what keeps most people from sticking with their meditation practice. But by allowing yourself to focus on a “task” like counting the breath – it can help keep you on track. Count up to the number 6 to start. Then up to 8…10…12…whatever you need to do to focus on the breath.
ANOTHER WAY - of dealing with those thoughts in your head is to simply acknowledge the thoughts and silently tell yourself, “thinking…..” and if you hear noises that are distracting you, acknowledge those noises and silently tell yourself, “hearing…” – in other words, recognizing what it is for what it is and then letting it pass, and continue your focus. You may also want to choose a “mantra.” A mantra is a word or phrase that you silently repeat to yourself during meditation.
IT'S IMPORTANT - to try and meditate daily but forgive yourself if you don't. It is not always going to be easy. Some days, you are going to be busy, tired, apathetic, or unavailable, and that is okay.
IT IS ALWAYS THERE FOR YOU - and is a practice you can pick up anytime. As humans, we are constantly striving to perfect some routine or regimen. While it is good to remain disciplined with your meditation, do not let it become a chore or a task to cross off your to-do list. Allow it to simply be a reprieve for you; a kind of mental vacation for sacred self-reflection.
This is truly where this practice thrives and gives back tenfold.
TIPS – that might help you get started…
If you choose to start meditating via a guided meditation like I did – you’re in luck. There’s an abundance of ways to go about guided meditations via YouTube, Facebook and other social media groups, and even meditation apps on your phone. Some are free, some have a subscription option.
Below are some helpful options to check out.
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