Meditation is a healing practice that can reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. It seems simple enough: sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, and find your inner tranquility. Only it’s not that simple, and people get frustrated when they can’t meditate like an eighty-eight year-old monk their first time.
The beauty of meditation is that you can do it anywhere. It’s a personal practice that aims to relax the body, but most people find it difficult when they first start out. This is completely normal because it’s easy to let incoming thoughts distract you. The best advise anyone can give is to welcome the thoughts as they come in, and then release them like a long exhale, banishing the carbon dioxide from the lungs. The primary goal for any meditation novice is to be present in the moment. When you are able to settle with your present self, you can release your grasp of everything that preoccupies the mind.
For anyone who wants to begin meditation, it’s always best to start slow. A 5-10 minute session every day is wonderful; you don’t need to go the distance straight out of the gate. Once you get comfortable with the practice of your choice, you can start elongating your meditative time. Use the following meditation techniques to help guide you into a more peaceful state of mind.
Focus On Your Breath
Breathing is a natural part of life, but rarely do people pay attention to their breath. That doesn’t mean you should force your breath during meditation, though. It doesn’t have to be slow, deep or consistent. When you get more comfortable with meditation, your mind will calm down and your breath will follow suit. As you pay attention to your breath, your mind may wander, but this is normal. Let your mind wander and always reel it back in to your breath.
A lot of people find it easier to repeat a mantra or affirmation than to focus on their breath. The intent behind the repetition of a certain word or phrase is to promote clarity in the mind. If you struggle to focus on it in your mind, you can chant your word or phrase aloud. Traditionally, a person repeats the same mantra for 40 consecutive days, but this isn’t necessary for beginners. Repeat your word or phrase 108 times when you first start.
The Right Time And Place
When you’re starting out, the best thing you can do for yourself is to commit to a meditation time every day, or at least a couple times per week. When you meditate, try to do it at the same time and for the same amount of time. Honor this routine because making a commitment to yourself is a sign that you want to bring about change. Eventually, meditation will become habitual, just like brushing your teeth.
A blank mind is very difficult to achieve, especially as a beginner. For those who struggle with a lot of sporadic thoughts, visualizing pictures in your mind can be a useful technique to help you through meditation. Visualization is essentially the use of your imagination, and some people find it easier to focus on a specific scene or picture in the mind than nothing at all. You can imagine yourself on a beach, in a forest, by a campfire, or in a tranquil space. Experiment to figure out what works best for you.
Just like anything else in life, the more you practice, the better you get. A seasoned meditator can simply meditate at the drop of a hat, but you aren’t there yet. Find a meditative technique or practice that works for you (there are so many online tools and apps that make it easy) and keep doing it. When you devote 5-10 minutes of your day to meditation, you can start to see how much your body benefits. You can meditate before a big meeting, after a run, during a plane ride, or right before bed. The main goal is to just keep doing it!