Over the last few years I been a keen practitioner of meditation. However over those few years I had a very busy schedule with work and college which meant starting and restarting my meditative routine. Meditation at the very start seems very daunting and it can be a bit anxious if you’re a beginner or even restarting a regular practice. Here’s some easy tips I learned when beginning meditation.
1. Practice Daily
As they say practice makes perfect. When you are first starting out with meditation, it is important to keep with it. You may not notice or actualise the benefits right way but the more consistent and regular your practice becomes it is easier to quieten the mind, enter a state of relaxation and allow clarity to come through. Even just 5 minutes a day will help you commit to long term routine.
2. Start Small
If you have never done meditation before, it can seem daunting. You might have heard about people practicing meditation for 30 minutes or an hour each day but they have built up to that amount of time. Start your meditation habit by sitting for two minutes or maybe five or even small blocks of meditation during different periods of the day. Work your way up to a time that best suits you and your schedule. By jumping into meditation too quickly it can lead to frustration and discouragement for the practice. So start out nice and easy.
3. Find a Purpose for your Meditation
What is drawing you to meditate? Have an intention or purpose for your meditation practice. It can be the same intention over and over again. Or you can have a specific intention for the day. It is not a passive act but a deliberate intention to be still for a reason. The reason may be resilience to stress or to counter anxiety, irritability, overthinking, depression or to calm your nervous system. Maybe it is too into a state of relaxation or peacefulness or rejuvenate your energy. Even increasing your awareness to connections of your body; consciousness; feelings; surroundings or for more religiously directed practices connecting with a higher presence.
If you have a specific issue or decision you need to make and are having trouble finding the answer, set your intention for what you would like to receive during the meditation. Don’t expect to get a clear answer in the form of your own voice, but just pay attention to any feelings you may feel or signs that may possibly come afterwards. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to stop thinking about it and let the answer come to you.
4. Pick your Space
Pick a room in your house to meditate in, and try to be consistent with the same location; a space which is calm and has minimal distractions. Your space needs to be clutter free, clean and open (fresh air can pass easily). It will not only provide you better experience and positive vibes but can also provide you fresh air to breath during your meditation session. You can include in your space photos of loved ones or some objects with special meaning to create a positive atmosphere. Aids such as gentle, slow, meditative background music can establish your attention within your space.
5. Make Sure to Not be Distracted
While the last tip was creating a space to meditate, this point is more preventing any distraction while you practice. Meditation is all about concentration and relaxing the mind in silence. Before your session let your family, friends or roommates know that you will be busy for your allotted amount of time and to not disrupt you. Turn off your mobile phone, put it on vibrate or mute or even leave it in the other room. A closed door or using earplugs in your space helps a lot in reducing distractions.
6. Small Warm-ups or Yoga Before Starting
By stretching or doing yoga before you start meditating, you will prepare your body to sit in one position for a long time. Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. Even just rolling your neck and stretching your back beforehand can help you stay comfortable for longer. Stretching can help your bode relax and get your mind ready for meditation and invite an unstructured sense of getting the energy moving in your body.
7. Your eyes can be open or closed
Do what feels right for you. If you keep your eyes open, you might see visual distractions then a focal point in the room may be needed. If you close your eyes, it may feel forced and unnatural while you’re awake. So do what works for you.
8. Get comfortable
Choose a comfortable position that feels right to you and your body. Sitting cross-legged may not be for everyone, especially those with sore bones or injuries. Experiment with different positions to see which best suits you. Feel free to use props such as a meditation pillow or bench, a blanket or blocks, or a back-jack. It’s common for beginners to even sit in a chair. Being comfortable gives you the confidence to continue your practice. You need to keep an elevated position during meditating. A straight spine, your head centred at the top of your spinal column, your brain floating and muscles are less tense and relaxed. Even small details like making the skin at the back of your neck passive, and relaxing your tongue can greatly increase your comfort. The root of your tongue connects to your brain stem. When your tongue relaxes, your brain does too. The thought stream slows down and it is easier to slip into an observer consciousness.
9. Expect to think
Don’t expect not to think. It is the exact opposite. Expect the thoughts to come. Know that your mind will have a lot of thoughts popping in and out. In the beginning, you may also have difficulty keeping still and you may get fidgety. Just acknowledge all these rather than let them faze you and let them go. Then continue to quiet the mind and still the body and focus. Your mind will wander. But when you do notice that you have stopped concentrating on your object of meditation, try not to make any judgements about yourself or your ability to meditate. Instead, gently bring your focus back to the object of meditation again.
10. Focus on Breathing
Begin every practice by breathing deeply, slowing inhaling and then exhaling and focusing solely on your breath. Your breath is always with you. It is constant and can be consistent and a great aid for concentration or if your mind wanders then begin your attention back to the breath. By breathing slow inhales and long exhales, this can slow down your heart rate, relax your muscles and allow your mind to find ease in concentration.
11. Let Go of All Expectations
Don’t expect enlightenment during your first session of meditation. The benefits that you will receive from meditation will come in a variety of different ways. If all you get from meditation is 5 minutes a day of a clear head, then that is perfect in its own way and will be enough to relieve stress and bring peace into your life in a way that you may never thought was possible. Don’t get caught up with what others claim to have experienced, focus on yourself and remember you are doing this for yourself only. It is not a competition; remember there is no right or wrong way to meditate. By just allowing your experience of meditation to unfold in any way that it does, you’ll get the best experience.
12. Group or Guided Mediation
The best way to start meditation is with the guidance of an experienced teacher, either in person or through guided meditations. You might find it easier when you follow someone else’s instructions. It can be a fun experience and to have someone guide you through your meditation, try out a guided meditation. You can find many free guided meditations available on YouTube and other platforms. You may also grow faster when you meditate in a collective group. Whether it is with friends, family members, your partner, or an organisation by meditating in a group it’ll help you stay committed to the practice. Moreover, you can share your experiences afterwards. You might be surprised to hear how different their experiences were.
13. Find What Meditation Style works Best for You
There are so many different ways to meditate, such as Zen meditation, Tibetan meditation, Hindu meditation, Mindfulness, visualisation, chanting meditations, mantras, and so on. Try out different types to see which one feels right for you. Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult. One type of meditation may not be giving what you are looking for so experiment with as many as you can to see the technique that resonates most with you.
Find what best suits you and what has the best results.
14. Have Fun and Enjoy It
Allow yourself to really enjoy your meditation session. View your repetitive or silly thoughts with humour. Have fun with it! Even if you feel like you didn’t get much from the practice, don’t give up. Take enjoy that you took the time to sit down and practice. The effects may not be obvious at first, but in time you will be glad you started.
Do you have any tips or advice for meditation beginners? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!