The first time I tried meditation was probably over 20 years ago when I snuck into my Mum’s spiritual meeting that was hosted at our house every Monday evening. They always finished with a meditation and I was somehow allowed into the meeting just before in order to ask some questions. I stayed for the meditation and it was probably one of the single most powerful moments of my life.
Being a teenager, when your spiritual power is at its height, meditating that first time came so easily. I was there. I was right up there in the stars. I felt a total peace as I felt like I left my body. It truly was an out-of-body experience, which, to look back at, felt incredible. At the time, however, it was a complete shock. I had never felt like that before and it was almost scary. It was so powerful a feeling.
Move forward many years and I have been in and out of the practice of meditation. It’s part of my spiritual belief system (something I haven’t necessarily talked about much before on my blog) so it is something that I do take for granted.
I grew up with spirituality being an integral part to our household. It was my upbringing, and I guess for a long time I took for granted that it was just part of who I am.
But I am truly myself when I am in touch with spiritual self, when I am feeling connected and grounded with my own spirit and the energy around me.
Yet, being an adult and all the baggage-y stuff that comes with life experience and a mind full of ‘all the things’, it can be harder to switch on the spiritual connectivity. It can be harder to connect with your own energy.
I found that one great way of connecting with my spirituality, and the energy of myself and that around me, is to try meditating.
Meditation is a powerful way to connect. Meditation is a great way to calm, focus and breathe. Meditation is good for the mind, body and soul. In fact, meditation has so many benefits that it would probably take up an entire blog post! (Note to self: write that blog post next).
I find that meditation is often under-appreciated, or even misunderstood. Many think that meditation is reserved only for those who are super spiritual, or those seeking enlightenment. But actually meditation is also a useful tool for everyday use.
Meditation is a way of taking care of your mind. It’s a healthy practice that allows your mind space, which in turns helps with productivity, creativity, clarity, and overall mental wellbeing.
You don’t need to be spiritual to practice meditation, you just need to be wiling to take the time to focus on the absolute here and now.
And the most important factor to remember about meditation is that it is a practice. It’s something you do regularly and you build the skill of meditation over time. It’s not a short-cut to clear minds, and you won’t be instantly calmed, cured, or enlightened. With practice though you will find it easier to reach towards those goals, and that can only be a good thing.
Today I want to share some of my tips on how to practice mediation in this beginner’s guide to meditation.
BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO MEDITATION
1. Do it the morning
Meditating is a great way to start the day. It helps you feel focused and grounded before you go about your daily activities. Plus, if you put it off until later in the day you might forget, or make excuses not to practice. Get it done first thing in the morning and you’ll feel the difference thought the day.
2. Start off slow
Begin your practice simply with a short 2-3 minute meditation. If you do short meditations for a few days in a row you can start increasing your time by a minute and before you know it you are practicing 10 minute meditations, and more!
3. Count breaths
A great way to start meditation is to count your breaths. Just simply being aware of your inhale and exhales allows you to empty your mind and focus on a pure and simple motion in your body.
4. Acknowledge feelings
Note how you are feeling. How are you feeling physically? How are you feeling mentally? Or emotionally? Allow yourself to recognise these feelings. Be aware of them.
5. Do a body scan
A useful way to practice meditation is try a body scan. Start at your feet and go up through the body. Take your time with each part of the body. You begin by concentrating on your toes, notice how they feel. Then move to the soles of your feet. Through the top of the foot. To the ankle. And so on…right until you reach the top of your head.
6. Be ok with mind wandering
Your mind will wander, and that’s ok. Don’t think you’re not meditating if you start thinking about something else, if you begin daydreaming, or perhaps worrying. Note that your mind has wandered and move it back to the meditation process. It’s totally normal for your mind to wander when you meditate.
7. Find something to focus on
There are many ways to meditate. You could try choosing to focus on one thing such as sound or light or even energy. Try to focus on that one thing and notice every tiny part of it. For instance, if you concentrate on sound, note the sounds within the room you are in, note the sounds you are making, note the sounds of outside, note the sounds that are constant and the ones that come and go.
8. Acknowledge thoughts
When your mind wanders take the time to acknowledge the thought that arises. Be curious about it. Ask yourself why this thought is presenting itself to you. Choose to put it away or embrace it before returning to your meditative practice.
9. Try guided meditation
Another great way to get started with meditation is to try guided meditation. There are quite a few apps now that you can download onto your phone where a voice will guide you through a meditation.
Calm app has a timed meditation feature to help you build your meditation practice time. Or you can pick one of the short courses most relevant to you. i.e. 7 days of calm, 7 days of focus, 7 days of calming anxiety, 7 days of sleep… and so on.
Mindfulness app also has timed sessions where you can choose whether to have guided, silent or personalised meditation sessions, as well as the option to choose an ambient background sound. There are several practitioners to choose from on this app offering standalone meditations or courses. Again, you can choose courses based on the kind of meditation you need, from sleep, focus and emotions, to travel meditations and mindfulness in schools.
10. Repeat mantras
In both Hinduism and Buddhism it is commonplace to repeat a mantra in order to reach a meditative state.
The ‘om’ is a sound rather than a word that is one of the most spiritual sounds and vibration in the world. Beyond this, mantras can be a set of words, sounds, or phrases that help you focus.
You can either say the mantra out loud or repeat in your head. One mantra we repeat in my household is: Om namah shivah
Or choose your own mantra (I wrote a list of 43 positive mantras to help inspire you).
11. Be comfortable
Eventually you’ll find you will be able to practice meditation anywhere, but to start with it’s helpful to make sure you feel comfortable.
I usually sit in bed with the blanket over my legs, or I sit on the floor in the living room on top a cushion with my back leaning against the sofa, and blankets over my legs. I turn off my phone notifications, put the cats away in another room, and let my partner know that I need a set amount of time without interruptions.
As long as it’s quiet and you’re comfortable, that’s all you need to get started with meditation.
12. Commit to the practice
They say it takes 30 days to form a habit, so give yourself at least a month of daily practice to figure out if meditation works for you.
13. Enjoy the moment
Meditation doesn’t have to be serious, you can embrace the joy that taking that time for yourself and your wellbeing brings.
14. Don’t worry about technique
There are so many ways to practice meditation so allow yourself the time to try a few techniques until you find your flow. Don’t focus so much on technique as much as just doing the practice.
15. Don’t worry about clearing your mind
Meditation is not about clearing your mind. With such active mental spaces it’s totally normal for our brains to bring other thoughts our way. Remember that meditation is a practice not an end goal. You can work towards clearing your mind, but it might not always be totally clear. This is normal.
16. Don’t be hard on yourself
There is no wrong or right way to practice meditation. Everyone will have their own way that makes a difference to them. Just as we all have unique brains, we have unique ways of practicing meditation. Don’t think that you are ‘doing it wrong’, just be happy with the way you are practicing it.
17. Don’t do it alone if it’s a struggle
Either use one of the guided meditation apps as mentioned above, or perhaps find a local community that practices meditation to help you.
18. Don’t be disheartened
You may feel results immediately, you may not. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get immediate results. If you stick with meditation it will come to you in time, be patient, willing and open to the process.
I hope my beginner’s guide to meditation helps! Good luck!
* Did you know that meditation as a practice is about 5000 years old (maybe more) and founded in the Hindu traditions of the Indus Valley region, modern-day India.
* It is thought that many different cultures have practiced meditation throughout the world for thousands of years, including the Aborigines of Australia and Native Americans of North America.
* The term ‘meditation’ comes from the Latin word ‘meditatio’ which roughly translates as ‘to think, ponder, contemplate’.
Do you practice meditation? What is your favourite way to practice meditation?
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