Meditation can be intimidating largely because there is confusion regarding what meditation really is. A more accurate question to start with is actually what meditation isn’t. There really are not strict limits on the practice of meditation and it certainly isn’t limited to sitting cross-legged on the floor, perfectly at peace. However, if that is the form of meditation that works for you, then have at it! See how it can be confusing? Meditation is different for everyone depending on your lifestyle, your preferred way of sitting, lying down, relaxing or simply being.
While we ponder over the real definition of meditation, there’s no mystery regarding the positive effects. Meditation practice can help boost attentiveness, mindfulness, even out mood and organize thoughts. These effects hopefully carry over into your relationships and general outlook on life.
If you are curious about learning to meditate, here is how to begin.
- Set your intention. Meditation is wonderful for exploring your thoughts, feelings or just your overall being at the present moment. If you wish to gain focus on the present (just being aware), try concentrating on your breath. Breathe in, breathe out, keeping your mind set on what you are feeling in that exact moment.
To check in on your emotions, it is helpful to meditate using a “body scan.” You can do this lying down or in a comfortable seated position. Move your focus up through your body starting at your toes. What areas feel tight, where are you holding your emotions and tension? Breathe into those areas and allow them to release.
Are you stuck in relation to your goals? Visual manifestation may be a good fit for your meditation style. Sit quietly and comfortably, or even actively meditate (walking, steady running) while visualizing your dreams and goals. Think of the steps you need to get there, one by one. Try not to let your mind wander too far from your goals. Face what you have not been wanting to face, then plan out your path to success.
- Check the time. Begin by meditating for just one or two minutes at a time. Gradually add one minute over the course of one or two days, adding up to ten minutes. A lot of meditation beginners find it helpful to listen to music or guided meditation apps. Audio tools help keep you relaxed and in the moment; silence can sometimes make us wander off.
- Reset your expectations. As in, don’t have any. Meditation does feel or look the same for everyone. Feeling anxious, twitchy or bothered is perfectly normal. Let your thoughts come and go and try to not tie any emotions with them. Acknowledge that they are present in your mind, then let them move on. Allow yourself to just think and be rather than dwelling on anything emotionally strenuous.
- Be consistent. Our minds tend to love routine and we can train our brains to expect meditation at a certain time each day. Some people prefer to wake up to meditation, others prefer to fall asleep to it. Regardless of your preferred meditation time, do your best to be consistent. Over time, you may come to really enjoy your few minutes alone with your mind.
Remember, meditation is a practice and even meditative masters do not consider their mind “conquered.” Victory is not the goal; this isn’t a skill you learn, max out and then discard. Meditation is something we work on every day in order to add some balance and peacefulness into our lives.
It’s also important to note that the purpose of meditation is to, of course, learn more about the workings of your mind and thought patterns but you must then apply what you learn! Use your newfound zen to improve your life, change your perspective and build relationships.
Best of health,