Discover why meditation is easier than you thought, and learn how to get started.
Maybe you’ve often thought about meditation but never knew where to start.
Perhaps you’ve started and thought that it’s too difficult to continue?
Or wondered if you’re doing it ‘properly.’
What are the benefits of meditation?
Relax. Meditation is easier than it sounds.
You don’t need to sit on the floor cross-legged, tie yourself in impossible knots or cut yourself off from the rest of the world.
Meditation is deceptively simple and something that you can practice anytime, anywhere.
Benefits of meditation include:
- Stress reduction
- Positive effects on immune and brain function
- Improved focus
- Increased creativity
- Feeling happier
- Enhanced memory
- Elevated levels of emotional intelligence
- Reduced anxiety
There are many reasons to set time aside each day and create your own Zen moments.
But where to start?
Look no further.
We’ve created your very own step-by-step beginner’s guide to meditation.
Start where you are
Forming the habit of meditation can start right here, right now.
If the thought of sitting down for half an hour every day sends you into a cold sweat, you’re not alone.
Start by committing to a more achievable goal.
Five minutes is a great place to begin, and you can build your meditation practice from there.
And if five minutes sounds too long, start with one minute.
Most people say they simply don’t have the time to meditate.
The truth is, we don’t have time not to.
Think of meditation as a workout for your brain.
The brain is a muscle like any other muscle in your body.
You wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect to be match-fit straight away.
Meditation is the same.
The more you practice, the greater return on your time investment you’ll see.
Once you notice the benefits, you’ll naturally want to do over 5 minutes.
Choose a time
A formal meditation practice (one that you do sitting down every day) can help you choose a daily time and place to embed your new habit.
Try to link it to something that you do every day:
- waking up,
- drinking your morning coffee
- arriving into work
- taking your lunch break
- getting home from work
- before you go to bed
Linking your new meditation practice to something you already do will make creating space for it within your day easier.
If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, be kind to yourself and remember, tomorrow is another opportunity to practice.
Create your own meditation space
Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.
It doesn’t need to be an entire room, and you don’t need any special equipment.
You can create your own meditation zone in a corner anywhere in your living space.
If you prefer to meditate outdoors, try your favorite park or a green space where you can sit and relax.
Wherever you choose, make sure it’s somewhere comfortable and right for you.
Rest easy. You don’t need to sit cross-legged to meditate.
Whether you’re sitting on the floor or choose to sit in a chair, there are some really simple rules regarding posture.
Make sure your spine is upright, allowing you to sit comfortably without being rigid.
If you lean to one side or slump against a chair, it’s easy to feel drowsy, lose focus or fall asleep.
An upright posture will help you remain focused.
Your head should be slightly lowered, your chin tucked in, with your shoulders back and relaxed.
Use whatever you need to make yourself comfortable, whether leaning against a wall, using a specially designed meditation stool, stacking cushions to sit on, or lying on the floor.
Listen to your body and allow it to act as your guide.
This is really down to preference.
For some people, it’s easier to meditate with their eyes open.
For others, eyes half closed, focusing on a single point in front of them works best.
Others find it easier to meditate with their eyes completely closed.
Different strokes for different folks!
Trial and error is the best way to determine what works best for you.
Set an intention
Before you sit down to meditate, it’s helpful to set an intention.
Doing this for each meditation session can help to guide your practice.
As Wayne Dyer said, “Our intention becomes our reality.”
If you’re not clear on your intention, ask yourself a few simple questions:
Is there something you’d like to explore?
What matters most to you about this practice?
Can you name something you are grateful for?
What is challenging for you?
What would you like to focus on?
Is there something you would like to create or build in your life?
Think of your intention as a reminder of why you choose to meditate.
Now you’re ready to meditate.
There’s nowhere to go and nothing to do.
The beauty of meditation is that you’re not trying to achieve anything.
There is no end goal.
Forget your ‘to do’ list.
This is the time for you to stop doing and start being.
The breath is a natural anchor to use when meditating.
You’re not trying to change your breath, control it, or change it.
Simply notice the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils.
Perhaps the air feels a little cooler around the nostrils as you inhale?
As you breathe out, it may feel a little warmer around the nostrils, or you might feel a stream of warm air passing over your upper lip.
Observe the sensations in your body as you breathe in and out.
Notice the rise and fall of your abdomen and your shoulders’ movement.
If your mind wanders, congratulate yourself for noticing and bring your focus back to the breath.
If you become distracted by thoughts, emotions, or feelings once, twice, or ten times, it’s fine.
Just notice that your focus has drifted without beating yourself up.
Gently bring your awareness back to your breath each time, noticing whatever is here, right now.
Which meditation form is easier: formal or informal?
Informal practice is the way to go when you just can’t fit a formal sitting practice into your day.
You’ll still be building your meditation muscles and reaping the benefits by performing these short, simple meditations.
The Traffic Light
This one is simple and takes just one minute.
Think of what you do at a traffic light; stop!
You can do this in your car whenever you are stopped by a red light, sitting at your desk, or sitting in your chair.
- Stop: Stop what you are doing.
- Pause for a moment.
- Take a breath
Breathe. It’s easy.
We do it all the time. We just don’t think about it.
Really notice how the breath feels entering your body, and how it feels as you exhale.
Concentrate your attention solely on your breath.
Observe: Now you’ve had that pause and breathed a little.
How do you feel?
What’s going on for you?
What thoughts are popping into your head?
How do you feel right here, right now, in your body?
Just notice, and observe it without judging.
Proceed: Time to continue on your journey.
The one-minute breath
This is another technique that only takes a minute.
Set your stopwatch, use one of the many meditation apps or sit in front of a clock and breathe for one minute.
You aim to focus on your breath for one whole minute.
Notice how the breath feels as it enters the nostrils.
Does it feel cool as you inhale?
Or perhaps it’s a little warmer as you exhale?
Notice how the breath feels traveling down your throat, filling your lungs, and leaving the body.
That’s all you’re doing, focusing on your breath, using it as an anchor for an entire minute.
This is a mindfulness favorite.
You can do it with chocolate, raisins, dinner, breakfast, or anything you like as long as it’s edible.
Get rid of distractions like the TV, newspaper, mobile phone, radio, or conversation and sit down to eat, bringing your full attention to your food.
Reflect on the following;
Where did it come from?
How was it produced?
How does it smell?
What color is it?
What are the textures like?
Chew slowly and really savor your meal.
Finish chewing before you reload your fork.
Notice how your food tastes.
What is the consistency like?
Really bring your awareness to each mouthful.
This is also a great technique if you are watching your weight, helping you to feel fuller for longer rather than wondering where that bar of chocolate went….
A mindful cup of tea
It’s a simple task, but there’s a reason it’s a ritual in the Far East.
Making (and drinking) tea can be a profoundly relaxing experience.
Notice the weight of the kettle as you fill it with water, listen to the sound of the water running from the tap, and how the light bounces off the endless stream.
Notice the sounds of the water in the kettle as it comes to a boil.
Stay in the present as you prepare your cup and place the tea bag in it.
Watch as you pour the boiling water onto the bag, notice the color of the water change and how it floats as the steam swirls upwards.
Then sit down and reward yourself as you notice the heat, the initial taste of the tea as you sip, and the flavors in the different parts of the mouth until you swallow.
The next time you’re walking, feel the ground under your feet, the weight shifting from one foot to the other, and the stretch in your calves and thighs as you move forward with each step.
Perhaps notice how you breathe as you walk or any changes in the body.
Really notice what’s going on around you.
As you walk, observe the light, the sky, the clouds, and the leaves in the trees.
Notice the buildings you pass, the architecture.
Who are your fellow pedestrians?
How do they move?
Remain in the present moment as you head towards your destination.
Bring your attention to the wind on your face, how the sun feels as it shines down, the temperature on your skin, and how it feels to move your whole body.
Notice how you feel when you finally arrive at your destination.
Now you’re ready.
Meditation is easier when you keep at it
With just a few simple practices, you’ll notice that you can easily and skillfully introduce meditation into your everyday life.
The great thing about meditation is that you can use it at any place, anytime, anywhere.
Practiced regularly, you’ll see that meditation can improve your mental and physical health, offering a great return on investment for just a few minutes of your time each day.
So what are you waiting for?
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