6 Tips For Beginning Meditation I Wish I Knew Sooner
How to Meditate for beginners, six simple tips!
How does less stress, more time, more creativity, more joy, more patients, better relationships and ultimately freedom from the self imposed limitations of your busy mind sound?
First let me share that Science confirms what yogis, monks and martial artists must have inherently know for years. Regular Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, enhances focus and productivity and supports overall emotional well-being amongst many other benefits. Clearly the results are undeniable and the byproduct of a regular practice are physical, mental and spiritual.
If your ALL-IN, read on for six simple steps techniques and practices.
Tip #1: Commit.
In other words, get your ASS on the cushion, daily. So you’re finally at a point in your life where you want to explore meditation. Congratulations and hold on as your life is about to radically change, that’s if you stick with it – as it takes massive discipline and a sincere non attachment to outcomes.
For some it’s a lifestyle choice – for others it seems like a last hope. Perhaps you are finally getting honest with yourself about just how miserable you really are OR maybe your super cool yoga teacher practices and you want to me just like her! Regardless of weather your simply curiosity or ripe for some much needed self care, it doesn’t matter why you start, just start, and then start again – and then again…
I can recall when I started, it was a break-up that put me on my knees. I felt like meditation choose me, and truth is, it saved me. Now I’m fully enchanted.
I had so many questions when getting started.
What style should I practice? Where should I practice? How long should I practice? When is the best time to practice? What are the best techniques? How do I know if I’m doing it right? What are the benefits? Do I need a teacher?
Explore, but don’t get caught up in all the approaches to meditation as they are vast in style, countless in number and ever growing. All the different schools of practice promise the same benefits and all of them deliver. Just like yoga – it’s personal and ALL paths lead home! In modern times where everyone seems to boasts how busy they are, I’ll guess you don’t have time to study all styles and techniques either. You’ve likely consulted Google and YouTube, looking for some sort of meditation hack. Unfortunately OR fortunately we can-not outsource meditation, it’s an inside job.
What Is Meditation anyway?
To put it simply, it is a practice of training the mind to be free of compulsive thought and instead tethering your awareness to the void. In some forms it is said to be more than 5,000 years old, but who really knows as it was an oral tradition in many places prior to being cataloged. Back then it was a reserved for a select few – master martial artists, recluse monks and cave dwelling yogis. Now Meditation has finally gone mainstream, it’s the new black and considered the preferred performance enhancing practice of professional athletes, star musicians, celebrities, corporate executives, moms and your average Joe’s.
Tip #2: Technique.
Choose ONE technique and stick with it for at least a month. If it’s fruitful, stick with it – if not choose another and stick with that ONE for at least a month and so on. This is especially valuable when your just getting started.
Meditation is unequivocally one of the most effective ways to train your mind and promote genuine peace. It is the practice of noticing the space between thoughts and dwelling there. You do this by focusing your attention on one thing – to the exclusion of all else. A traditional technique is resting your focus on your breath, breath is always current, tangible and has the power to tether you to the moment. This is not to be confused with Pranayama which is breath control.
Another technique is the silent repetition of a word or phrase, also called Mantra. It could be anything you chooses a touchstone to remain focused. Best to keep it simple and neutral so it doesn’t pull your mind from the moment. For example: Inhale- peace… exhale- relief. Or perhaps a more traditional Mantra like So- Hum, the translation from Sanskrit is- I AM that. Inhale- So, Exhale- Hum, and repeat. This becomes very soothing for the mental body.
Eventually the Mantra will dissolve and you will feel naturally compelled to to rest in the background of silence. This is where the sweetness of being or experience of bliss is all encompassing.
Just to be clear, focusing on breath or Mantra are tools that lead to the experience of Meditation, they condition the mind and set the inner space for the experience of oneness with Self- oneness with Spirit.
In Yoga this is called Dharana, it is the sixth limb of Patanjali’s liberation practice. The Sanskrit translation of the word Dharana means- to hold steady or one pointed focus. This leads to the next limb or rung which is Dhyana, which loosely translated as the ability to merge with ones object of focus. This is where the seer and the seen unite and become one. This is Meditation, no separation between self and the source of self- the Divine.
It is very natural for the mind to wander, the practice is anecdotal to this as it essentially a training to returning again and again. Just like the ocean’s tide, let it come – and let it go. You wander, you notice, and you start again. All the while without judgement nor attachment to outcomes and with a steadfast commitment to freeing yourself- from yourself.
Tip #3: Consistency over duration.
Some days you could sit for 5 minutes and have a highly pleasing experience. Other days you could sit for an hour and your attention may drift a hundred thousand times. This can be frustrating if your looking for outcomes but if your genuinely practice for the sake of the practice than you will effortlessly bypass this. Sit and sit daily, make it routine part of your day.
As for actual duration, it’s personal. Play with starting with 3-5-7 minutes, if that is easy than up it to 12-15-18 and when that is relatively comfortable than up the duration again and continue until you find a time that suits you. I think 20 min is a great goal to start with, I also believe this part reveals itself to you and does fluctuate naturally over time. More importantly than how long is the consistency of daily practice.
Tip #4: Sit comfortably.
This is personal to who’s doing the doing, in the moment it’s being done. You can invest in a Meditation cushion or bench, I actually like yoga blocks. Try sitting in Sukhasana- a comfortable cross legged position or perhaps against a wall or even in a chair. Make sure your hips are slightly elevated above knees and your spine is upright without being rigid. It matters not what position you choose as long as you can comfortably stay.
Simply remain relaxed, yet alert- be still but without force. As you steadily practice you will notice feelings of naturalness, ease, deep peace and overall well being.
Tip #5: Download a Meditation timer.
Download a Meditation app for your phone. I use Insight Timer, you can personalize your start- end time and pick from a variety of bells that are easy on the ear. This app tracks your daily practice, and you can set personal goals for yourself and invite friends too! A regular phone alarm can be very jarring on the nervous system and a bell or chime of some sort is a easy fix.
Tip #6: Attach your practice to an existing routine.
This is HUGE and will grow your experience from novice explorer to committed daily practitioner.
This is by far the best piece of advice I received from my teacher. Think on how many existing routines you already have and tag it on at the beginning or end of one of them. You walk the dog in the, you drink coffee, brush your teeth, you put the kids to bed, whatever it is you do, do it right before or after and condition yourself to attach it to that. Doesn’t matter what daily routine it is or what time of day it is, but attach it to that and your expedintally more likely to make it stick. Morning works for me as it’s really the only time of day I can truly own without disruption.
Lastly, there is nothing to “get good at” when practicing meditation BUT if there was is would be noticing when your attention has strayed and get good at simply returning. Again and again and again, back to center, back to self and back to the inner source of your experience.
If you feel a guide would be helpful to get started, consider following the breadcrumbs and click the link below!
Enjoy the journey!