“How do I start meditating?” I think this is a pretty common question and unfortunately one we may feel silly asking since based on all the photos in the media, meditation seems to be just sitting and doing nothing. Seems pretty simple until we try it out and realize it can be much more challenging than it appears!
Here are a few quick tips to demystify meditation and make it more accessible!
- Set a realistic length of time. 5-10 minutes is awesome to start. Pick a time in your day to practice and try to stick with it. First thing in the morning is often good because you have less time to make excuses to yourself about how many other things you need to do, rather than meditate! But, pick any time that works for you. Set a timer on your phone so it will let you know when your time is up.
- Be comfortable. Sit any way you like – in a chair, on the couch, on the floor. Lay down in bed (but, don’t fall asleep!). Be as comfortable as possible and readjust if you need to. If you are comfortable you’re more likely to maintain your practice.
- Use a tool to assist your mind in transitioning from DOING into more of a state of BEING. Try one of these:
- Use your breath:
- focus on the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your nose, or
- try counting your breaths – inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 8.
- Repeat a mantra/word: pick any word that is meaningful to you (kindness, love, presence, peace – anything) and
- repeat it out loud or silently to yourself. Example: “peace, peace, peace”, or
- synch the words with your inhales and exhales. Example: Inhale and think “peace” exhale and think “stress” (inviting peace in, letting stress go), or Inhale “trust” exhale “fear”, Inhale “love” exhale “hate”… you can pick any words you like!
- Be patient. Be prepared to think A LOT… meditation is hard and thoughts don’t just shut off. Even using the tools above, the mind will continue to chatter. The goal is not to shut off your thoughts but to increase your AWARENESS of where your mind goes, to notice when it starts running. When you use any of the tools above, their true purpose is to give you an anchor point to make it easier for you to notice when your mind has wandered. You will be counting your breath and suddenly notice you’re thinking about grocery shopping. When you notice you are thinking, super kindly and gently redirect your attention back to the tool you’re using. The mind will wander over and over – the key is to not get frustrated, to be patient and kind to yourself, and gently redirect your attention back to your focal point, over and over.
Try these out and let me know how it goes! Have other tips? Share them in the comments!