Now is as good of a time as any to really reflect and get in touch with your mind, body, and soul. One thing I have really been wanting to do is mediate. I have tried to start this in the past, but have always given up. My mind, like most of yours, seems to be running constantly always making the act of mediation such a struggle. I would love nothing more than to relax, be less worried, more focused, attentive, and appreciative, really reap the benefits meditation brings in all areas of my life.
Meditation seems to be able to change our thought paths to really understand how we think and what truly matters to ourselves personally, bringing overall peace of mind on a day to day basis. Doesn’t that sound f**cking awesome?! I think so, so I decided to dig a little deeper to try and find the best tips on how to start and stay mediating. This is a challenge and so it’s best we start small.
Find a good spot where you will do your meditating every day.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a spot that you have chosen in your house that you will visit every day to practice your mediation. Keeping it in the same spot [before you become an expert] will provide comfort and immediately slow your mind down from the second you decide to start your mediation.
Sit for three minutes.
No phone, no music, no nothing. Hit up your meditation spot sit down and still with your eyes closed, paying attention to your breathing. This will get you into the right mindset of meditating even if it is just for a short period of time. Do this every day for a week to get you into the routine. After a week add 2-3 minutes every other day increasing your time and expanding your focus.
Try to do it first thing in the morning.
We all push things as the day goes on and if we keep pushing mediation we will never do it. If we make this part of our initial morning routine, it won’t be forgotten and we will feel calm and ready to take on the day.
Feel your body.
This is a common tip when getting into mediation. Me mindful of how your body & mind feel. Are you anxious, do you have any pain, are you tense? Take note of what your feeling, this will likely change day-to-day and overtime as you progress.
Feel your breath.
It seems like an easy one, but we all get easily distracted with our breath and mediation as we let our minds wander. Deeply and slowly inhale all the way down into your belly, followed by a long exhale fully emptying the air in your lungs. This will slow your heart rate thus beginning to slow the mind. To keep you in track count to ten as you breathe, one when you breathe in, two when you breathe out, all the way to ten and then repeat. It will also assist in sharpening your focus.
- Don't wander too far, for too long. It is inevitable that your mind is going to be led astray, especially in the beginning. Instead of getting discouraged and obsessing over the thought that has entered your mind take a mental note of the thought, smile to yourself, and re-focus on your breathing and come back to focusing on the meditation.
When you do develop thoughts that will inevitably enter your mind, even if they are negative and don’t obsess over it like I just mentioned, but be open to it. Look at it in a friendly manner, it will help the thought leave your brain that much quicker. It may also give you insight into something that you may want to work on changing. Having a positive thought may help you determine how you should/could react to that situation in the future. You may get a humbled feeling once you have figured this out that you have never felt before.
Don’t shut your brain off entirely.
This does seem like an impossible task. Mediation isn’t to be so that you are sitting there with an “empty head” if you will, it's about focus, discovering yourself, and what will allow us personal peace. If throughout a meditation a thought keeps entering your head, you may want to sit with it for a bit. Get to know and discover it. Once you are feeling a little more in tune with the basics its important to let a thought stay with you to properly analyze how it makes you feel and how you may be able to overcome it. Staying with feelings that we dislike such as anger, frustration, or anxiety may allow you to discover where those feelings truly come from and what you can do to push them aside in a healthy positive manner. Like we said, welcome that feeling as though it is a friend, not an enemy and see what happens. This leads us to our next one…
When learning to meditate you learn about yourself. The practice of meditation will allow you to learn how your mind exactly works and how you analyze and deal with situations. When really looking deep in and reflecting on how you jump from subject to subject or the thoughts you allow to trickle in will teach you where your vulnerabilities are and how you may be able to escape some of your negative thoughts and behaviours. You’ll really learn how you tick.
Commit to you.
It is easy to pick up a task and say you’ll try it and when immediate results aren’t seen, we drop it. Try not to this time. Make a commitment to yourself that you will try this for at least 21 days. If you say it outlaid and keep telling yourself that, you will likely trick your mind into doing so.
Give yourself props, girl.
Once you’ve completed your mediation, show yourself some love. Smile and hug yourself for your accomplishment, because this isn’t easy and it is important that we show self-gratitude. Open your eyes take a look around, take a deep breath, really feel your body. You may feel lighter and more at ease or if it was a particularly hard day for you to stay focused, recognize that and don’t be angry, tell yourself you tried and you will try again tomorrow.
These are simply some basics that I have found in my research on mediation and how to get started. There are probably million-and-one more things that you could add to this list, but for myself, with a challenge like meditation, I like to keep it simple and have little goals. That way I can take it in chips and chunks and further my progress faster without becoming discouraged.
As you get more comfortable with mediation you can challenge yourself to focus on different things, such as light and sound or perform a body scan where you focus on one specific body part at a time. I’m optimistic that this will come with time and consistency. Just to keep me more accountable, I will share more with you along my meditation journey as I progress. One thing I am going to do, that you may like as well, is journal following my meditation. This will let me really analyze what I am thinking about and why. I will be able to determine if the same thoughts, anxieties, and frustrations keep making their way into my mind or if it isn’t one specific thing. I will be able to then write down how I navigated these issues and found peace in my mediation.
To help me along the way I will also be downloading a meditation app that will provide more tips and even guided meditations. Success with mediation comes with time, just remember to be patient. The goal is for it to de-stress you, not to stress you out.
Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and probably some WTF and AHA moments as I move along.
To help you [and let's be honest, mostly me] out, I’ve outlined a list of apps below each providing something a little different. So pick what suits your current state of mind.
- Headspace - Branded as the “gym for your mind” this is a great one as it provides guided meditations and courses on mediation to really get your focus.
- 10% Happier - For the people who are struggling with getting into mediation, this app connects you with coaches that will guide you through mediation when getting started.
- Insight Timer - This app is for all levels as it provides over 30,000 guided meditations…and its FREE
- Aura - For all the busy bees who need just a quick check in to calm their nerves
- Calm - Likely the most well known of the bunch, calm provides daily meditations as well as specific mediations that can help you break daily habits, calm stress, and battle anxiety.