There are different reasons for wanting to meditate, from controlling the internal commotion, getting to know oneself better, finding a sense of grounding, improving mental capacity and focus or tying it to one’s faith. The benefits of meditation are much touted by those already undertaking it daily or regularly.
This underrated practice could be one of the most valuable part of your daily life which you might have not discovered yet. There are a lot of other reasons why you should shut out the world for 15 to 30 minutes with meditation.
If you want to read more on the benefits of meditation, don’t miss the following posts.
“Meditation – Your doorway to well being!”
“Meditation is the key to success, latest study claims.”
Whatever your reason for wanting to meditate, it can be intimidating to know how to begin and stay motivated. This post will provide you with a way to start.
Remember, the first step of incorporating a habit is often the most difficult step but if you can maintain the motivation for 3-4 weeks, it becomes a habit!
Follow the steps:
The first step is committing to a regular, daily practice. Taking 15-20 minutes out each day shouldn’t be difficult, but it’s easy to get caught up in everything that’s going on. Try to make it a regular part of your schedule. Create a space to sit at the same time each day. Mornings seem to work best for most people, but find a time that works for you. Where you do it doesn’t matter, just as long as you’re unlikely to be interrupted.
Before you start, you need to take care of a few practicalities.
When are you going to do it each day?
Where can you sit undisturbed?
How will you even remember to do it?
- Prepare your mind
Understand the purpose of meditation for you. Not everyone has the same reason for meditating, although most people appreciate its effect on calming your thoughts amid the cacophony of everyday life. Seeking inner quiet is important for everyone and it’s a way of connecting with yourself. Try not to over-complicate your reason for meditating. Don’t make it an achievement-oriented activity. Take it easy; it’s essential for relaxing and refusing to be caught up in everyday anxieties.
Ensure that you are alert. An alert mind will help you make the most of meditation, so it is helpful to be free of influence of any substance like alcohol or sedative.
- Prepare your body
Digestion is distracting. It is easier in the beginning to meditate on an empty stomach. Wait two hours after a full meal or an hour after a snack or a caffeinated drink before meditating. Worked up digestive system can be distracting.
Don’t smoke before meditating. If you smoke it is best to wait for roughly thirty minutes before meditating.
Wear something comfortable. Remove your shoes, ties or belts and loosen any tight or uncomfortable clothing so you are comfortable.
Strike the right posture. Avoid slumping or lying down somewhere that you’re used to falling asleep in. These are not positions conducive to staying alert when meditating. When beginning, you can sit on the floor or on a chair, sit on your heels, or sitcross-legged in the half lotus or full lotus positions. Keep in mind that it should be comfortable for you.
- Prepare the environment
Choose a calm location. Make sure you have some peace and quiet around you when you first begin learning to meditate. This is very critical to your success. Eventually, with regular practice, you may even master meditating even in noisier places but a noisy place is never ideal for meditation.
Disconnect or turn on the silencer for all phones. Still better to switch it off. With the kind of addiction we have developed for all the gadgets, a huge urge to check it periodically can completely mar the purpose of meditation.
Make the area pleasant. Make the space clutter free and organized. A scented candle, a bunch of flowers, an incense, a perfume diffuser or something else pleasing to your senses can be great little touches to enhance your first meditation. This is not a necessity but helps in our approach of holistic calmness.
Dim the lights. Turn them off if you are going to use candles. A harsh light on your eyes disturbs your senses. Additionally, you don’t want to come out of your meditation session into bright light.
Use a straight-backed chair to sit upright. For those sitting in lotus style you don’t need this. But if you prefer not to do so, use a straight-backed chair to sit upright. As an alternate, use some cushions to support your back. If you’re meditating outdoors, sit against some other comfortable support like a tree trunk, or a wall or a garden chair. If you would like to sit in a kneeling position, it is possible to use a meditation bench that can help to keep your back straight and take the pressure off your legs.
- Beginning Meditating
Sit still in your chosen position. Get settled. Sit comfortably with your hands resting in your lap or on your knees. Keep your back straight. Your neck should be relaxed, with your chin slightly tucked in.
Defocus your eyes. Be mindful of your breath. Every time your thoughts race off somewhere (and, they will, along with to-do lists, recent conflicts, anxieties, some jingle you are humming for two days…), come back to your breath. Don’t rebuke yourself if you begin wandering (it’s normal, specifically for a beginner), just circle back to your breath.
- Breathe deeply in and out.
- Don’t make any effort to change it, just observe the rising and falling sensation that it creates in your body.
- Seek to be aware of the different physical sensations you’re experiencing as you breathe deeply in and out.
- Notice how your body expands with an inhalation and contracts with exhalation.
- Experience the breath coming in through your nose, out through your mouth and experience how it feels through other parts of your body.
- Notice the stillness around you before and after each breath.
- Come back to your breath whenever the thoughts try to take over.
- At the end, before standing up, form a clear idea about what you’re going to do next. Don’t just jump up off the seat and lose the calm and spacious quality you’ve just created. Try to carry this awareness with you to the next activity.
The important notes:
Meditate daily. Don’t let any excuse creep in. If there is a will there will be a way. A short daily meditation is more productive than a longer, less frequent meditation period. 10 minutes a day is better than 70 minutes once a week, because it helps you establish the habit. Aim for a minimum of a continuous 20 minutes every day to start seeing results. If you miss a day, don’t panic or feel guilty; just start again the next day.
Accept that focus will be hard for the beginner. While it’s important to try and keep focused while meditating, you may find it hard as a beginner. Don’t criticize yourself, don’t be harsh to yourself. All beginners experience the inner unrest, the clamor of one’s thoughts trying to regain dominance. If thoughts enter your mind, just let them float out of your mind and return to focusing on your breath. You will need to do this time and time again. Please accept that it’s normal and perfectly acceptable for a beginner. Don’t ever stress yourself. As told before, don’t make medication a goal-based or achievement-oriented chore. In fact, some would say that this continual return to the present moment is the “practice” of meditation.
An easy tip: The counting method is used successfully by many beginners. It requires counting at the beginning of a breath meditation, counting for a few minutes. You will be focused on counting rather than other thoughts. Count each out-breath from one to ten, then return to one. Each time your mind wanders, return to counting again. It is possible to replace focus on the breath with focus on counting, and if that happens, stop.
Don’t expect too much. Practice and persevere. Meditation takes time to grow into a successful habit and show results. Many people get disheartened and frustrated with meditation because they expect immediate results. No, it’s not a magic process to show you results in a day. Be persistent, be patient. Your awakening and increased awareness will come when the time is right.You will reach a stage when your awareness will suddenly elevated to the desired level and you’ll want more of this experience! It may take days if you’re on a retreat with nothing more to do than meditate, or it can take weeks or months if you’re only dedicating a slot or being irregular.
An easy tip: You can increase your chances of being successful by finding others to meditate with. It might be an individual or a group, but it’s best to find someone more experienced at meditation than you, to offer guidance and inspiration.
Don’t let the good feel go away. The mindfulness that you experience from meditation should spill over into the rest of your life. Throughout the day, find small moments and events to remind yourself what it felt like to have that peace, clarity and focus. Maybe when you first sit down at your desk at work, when you drink your morning coffee, or when you’re on the bus. You don’t need to do the whole exercise – just take a couple of deep breaths, notice how you feel, loosen any areas of tension, relax your nerves.
A word of caution: Be wary of any organization or person asking for large amounts of money upfront to teach meditation. Some people end up paying thousands of bucks, when they could just as easily learn exactly the same method free of charge or for minimal cost.
Start meditating! It’s probably one of the best things you can do for the holistic betterment of your health and mind. Don’t forget to write back if you find this post useful.
What are the best meditation practices that work for you? Share them in the comments below!