Meditation is a simple practice that can be available to anyone, at any time, anywhere. No special equipment is needed, nor does it have to be performed in a specific place. It can reduce stress, increase clarity and calmness and promote emotional health. There are a great many styles of meditation that you can use to focus on different aspects of your health and wellness. Here we’ll look at the basic and beginner techniques you can use to start your meditation journey.
Firstly, let’s address some of the biggest misconceptions about meditation:
- It takes years of practice to be helpful.
- My mind can’t be quiet / I can’t stop thinking.
- It takes too much time to do.
- It’s all about spirituality.
If you have ever had any of these thoughts about meditation, you’re not alone. However, you can begin benefiting from meditation the day you start. There is no need to become a meditation master to implement the benefits into your daily life. One of the key elements of meditation is consistency. You don’t have to try to do it every day, but setting a realistic goal for yourself to get started is essential. Begin by aiming for 2 – 3 times a week. If you see the benefits and feel that doing it more often would be good for you, then you can do it more often. Meditation is something that you can build into your lifestyle. It can be completely tailored to your needs.
In today’s society, the average lifestyle is very go-go-go and fast-paced. So, sitting quietly and thinking about nothing can be challenging. Meditation isn’t about “creating a blank mind”. It’s slowing down and setting aside time to guide your thoughts and mind. You’re not sitting with a blank mind; you’re training your mind to be more aware, conscious, and mindful. Think of it as training your mind like other muscles in your body.
Yes, some people can sit and meditate for an hour or more and have no trouble. However, that is a lengthy amount of time for someone just starting. It can also seem like you don’t have the time in your day to fit in a meditation session. However, if you start with just 2 or 5 minutes a day, you may find that it can add time to your day. This is because you’ll be in more control of your mind and less distracted. One of the easiest ways to begin integrating meditation into your life is before bedtime or when you first wake up. Before you go to bed in the evening, put the phone and laptop away, turn the tv off and take 5 minutes to meditate. Do the same when you wake up in the morning before you look at your phone or email. Take 5 minutes to let your body wake up and use that tiny bit of time to meditate.
Indeed, meditation is often used and practised by spiritual groups and traditions. However, meditation in itself is non-spiritual and non-religious. It’s a mental exercise that has been tested and studied in numerous scientific research studies. These studies have proven that meditation can benefit many people and address many challenges, including PTSD, high blood pressure, ADHD, and many more. Meditation can be a powerful tool for anyone, no matter their spiritual views.
- First, find a comfortable place where you can sit or lie down.
- Next, close your eyes. If you think you’ll be too tempted to open your eyes, you can always use a sleep mask to cover your eyes gently.
- Don’t control your breathing. Just breathe naturally.
- Now, focus on your breathing and how your body moves while you inhale and exhale. Take notice of any movement of your body while you breathe. Your shoulder, chest, and belly, how do they react to your breathing? Only focus on your breath itself, don’t try to change/control the pace or intensity. Should your mind wander, return the focus to your breathing.
- Continue this for 2 – 5 minutes or longer.
This is a super simple meditation that any beginner can implement into their life. It would be classified as a Mindfulness Meditation Technique. After you complete your timed meditation, you can reflect on what happened during that time. How long did it take for your mind to wander? After the first time, did your mind wander a lot? Did you get caught up in your internal thoughts?
You are not alone if you answered yes or experienced some distractions during your meditation. We all do. You’ve consciously noticed that we live in our heads most of the time. We run on autopilot, letting our thoughts wander here and there, exploring the past and the future. We are doing everything BUT living in the present moment. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Through Mindfulness Meditation, you can train your mind to recognize when it is doing its completely normal run around. Being consciously aware of this, you can take a moment, a pause, from this wandering and choose what you would like to focus on. By doing so, Mindfulness Meditation can help you create a healthier relationship with yourself moving forward. You can be more aware of your needs and ensure you’re getting what you deserve. Stop burning yourself out and pushing yourself so hard at work to just please other people.
There are plenty of different styles and techniques of meditation. Many of these techniques can be incorporated into other activities like Yoga and Qigong. For beginners to meditation, start with a basic step-by-step system to follow. Alternatively, there are guided meditations that you can use and follow along with both online and through different apps. If you feel you would benefit from having someone to follow along with, that is a good option for you.
The most important thing to remember about meditation is that everyone starts somewhere, so be kind. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t sit for longer than 5 minutes or your mind wanders over 10 times during meditation. You are retraining how your mind usually works and allowing yourself to become more aware of your own needs. Like anything, it’s a learning process that will take some time to get used to.
The best way to set yourself up for meditation is to know why you want to do it. Be honest with yourself about what you want to get out of meditating. To be happier, feel calmer, be more focused, or less stressed? If you begin to feel restless, bored or doubt that it’s even doing anything, try reflecting on your purpose for starting.
To help yourself integrate meditation as a habit in your life, you must remember there is no pressure to get it right. As long as you’re trying and taking that time for yourself, you’re already doing great. Even if you set a goal of 3 times a week and only do it once, don’t start doubting that you’re not good at it or that it’s just not for you. Those are just thoughts. Acknowledge them, let them go, and move forward while remembering to be kind to yourself.