The Beginner’s Guide To Meditation
Many of us spend our days in a constant state of distraction, unhappiness and overwhelm, finding it hard to turn the brain off and be present in our day. Meditation is an incredible solution to this that offers an easy and effective way to find inner calm, peace and relaxation in an otherwise ‘hectic’ world.
Meditation may look like this extremely complicated exercise where you have to stand on your head and chant om, but it is actually way more simple than that. And the benefits of a regular habit of meditation are unlimited.
So for those who would like to tap into this amazing activity, here is a beginners guide that will show you exactly how easy it is to get started!
Make sure you wont be disturbed
So this may seem quite obvious but you really need to choose the right time to meditate. It needs to be when you wont be disturbed, so for example if you know there’s a chance the kids might burst in or you will be worrying about how long is left on the pie you have in the oven, this may not be the right time.
I like to get up early in the morning before my son wakes, this ensures that I will have very little on my mind and it will be at it’s most focused and less fatigued. For you it could be late at night or on your lunch break at work, find what suits you.
Make sure that the temperature in the room you are meditating in is comfortable for you also, you will not be able to focus if you are feeling too warm or cold.
Sit or lie comfortably
Meditation is meant to be relaxing and enjoyable, and a key element of this is to make sure you are comfortably sitting or lying down.
Some people find that lying down makes them fall into some super comfy accidental naps, and prefer to be sitting up in a chair with their hands on their lap. Others like to go cross legged, some like to really relax and lie on the floor on a matt or on the bed.
Personally I like to see what I feel like doing on the day, but mostly I like to lie down.
Take some deep breaths
In order to relax your body it can be good to start with some deep breaths. In through the nose, filling the lungs as much as you can and out through the mouth, you can do as many of these as you like.
I normally do about 5 or so and after that I can really feel my heartbeat slowing down and my body falling into a state of relaxation.
Once you have done your deep breaths you can return to your normal breathing. Try to keep your attention on the feeling of the air leaving your lungs and your chest moving down, and the feeling of the air entering your lungs through the nose and filling your chest up as it rises.
Also try to have more air coming out on the exhale than the inhale, this means that you are expelling more used air and making room for more fresh air to enter the lungs.
You may find that thoughts begin to come into your head and try to carry you away with them. If this does happen, all you need to do is gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
If you really feel like you need something to focus on rather than your breathing, you can play some meditation music or else listen to some chimes.
I like to use the app Stop, Breathe and Think for a chime noise to focus on. It’s free and you can set the timer to the desired length of your meditation, and also how often you want to hear the chime noise. I usually do 20 second chime intervals and I focus on the sound of the chime plus the sensation of my breathing.
You can also count your breaths too if that helps you to be more aware of them. You could count one for each in breath and two for each out breath. Or you could even count to ten breaths and then go back to one and count to ten again and so on, it’s all about finding what works for you.
When your thoughts take you with them
An important aspect of meditation is to be kind with yourself if you find that you keep getting pulled into a long sequence of thoughts.
When I first began meditating I thought the idea was to banish all thoughts from your head and sit in silence, but this is not the case. I would get so frustrated at myself that I wasn’t doing it ‘perfectly’. It always ended up that wrestling with my thoughts made it even harder to focus, the idea is to let the thoughts float through your head rather than fighting with them, what you resist, persists.
And although you may find at the beginning you are just bombarded with thoughts, be gentle with yourself and just bring your attention back to your breathing.
Your mental muscle is a bit like the muscle in your body, you need to use it and strengthen it to see any improvement. By regularly practising, you are building up your ability to focus and you will soon be able to watch your thoughts drift on by like coloured balloons. Being aware of them, but not being carried away.
How long should you meditate for?
To begin with you may want to try meditating for just a few minutes at a time, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Just like exercising at the gym, the more you practice and build muscle, the more you push yourself to do.
I would try with 5 minutes to begin with. If you find it easy then increase the time, if you find it too difficult then start even shorter. Again there is no set rule for meditation, you go at your own rate and progress whenever you feel you are improving.
Open your eyes
It can be helpful to have a timer set to let you know when you are done, you could use your phone or most meditation apps will do this for you within the sessions.
Once you hear the timer go off that’s you, open your eyes.
You should feel fresh and revived. It is usually after a session of meditation that you will receive those AHA moments, as your brain is less focused on worries or memories and able to think clearly.
You have officially just meditated, and it doesn’t take very long at all before you start seeing the benefits in your life.
The Benefits of Meditation
There are countless benefits to a regular habit of meditation, for example decreased stress and less anxiety. You can find some of the best ones in my blog post 7 Benefits of meditation.
One of the best benefits I have found is that you are essentially training your brain to be in control of your thoughts. I learned through meditation that we are not our thoughts, we are an awareness of our thoughts.
In training your brain to stay in the moment rather than obsessing over the past or future, you are taking control and are less likely to go off on a tangent over something that happened five years ago, or worry over something you are imagining for the future.
Instead you can enjoy the peace and beauty of the present moment. Your point of power is in the present moment and this is where you will find the most joy.
This is a powerful yet extremely easy introduction to meditation, and it is great for those who would like to start and ease themselves in. As always if you have any questions or comments please leave them below, I love to hear from you!
Wishing you avalanches of joy,