“Stepping out of the busyness, stopping our endless pursuit of getting somewhere else, is perhaps the most beautiful offering we can make to our spirit.” – Tara Brach
Have you heard about the life changing benefits that come from practising meditation but you’re not sure how to get started? Just as we exercise our bodies at the gym to stay healthy, we must exercise our minds in order to enjoy good mental health. Your mind is a busy place, constantly chattering away, analysing, judging, planning; it’s exhausting! Follow these 10 simple steps and you’ll be on your way to a life filled with focus, clarity and a whole lot more joy!
Start sitting still for five minutes every morning. One of the most common things that prevents people from committing to a meditation practice is the idea that they are too busy BUT everyone has five minutes a day to spare. Do you this every day for one week and then increase the time to 10 minutes. Start small and you will quickly see how much better you are feeling, which will motivate you to keep going.
Sit in a comfortable seated position with your spine straight either on the floor or in a chair. Close your eyes and let your whole body relax. Don’t get caught up analysing or judging whether you are doing it right, simply be. Become aware of your body and any sounds around you. Don’t try to change or control anything, just notice.
Focus on your breath
Turn your attention to your breath. Breathe in and out through your nose, completely filling up your lungs. Notice how your breath feels in your nostrils. Notice how your body moves with each breath in and out. Don’t try to control your breath; this will create a stress reaction in your body. Simply be aware and let you mind completely focus on your breath.
Notice your thoughts
Have an awareness of when your mind wanders and know that your mind WILL wander. This is inevitable and it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it right; it is the nature of the brain. Notice when your mind wanders and then bring your awareness back into your body and your breath. Many people think they are failing because they can’t clear their mind. When you begin meditating you will become aware of just how busy your mind is.
Stay with whatever arises; typically we tend to try to avoid uncomfortable feelings and emotions. It’s normal to experience frustration, boredom, anger or anxiety. Choose to stay with those emotions and you will notice that in doing that you give them less power. Those uncomfortable emotions will fade and you will soon feel something new. Change is inevitable. Feel everything.
“Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Enjoy guided meditations
Guided meditations provide step-by-step instructions and can be an extremely valuable tool when practicing meditation. Tara Brach offers a large range of free meditations on her website.
Headspace is a very popular app that is helping people completely new to meditation develop a consistent practice that is hugely impacting their lives in a positive way. Nearly every week, someone says to me ‘have you heard of headspace?’ This is a paid app but they offer a free 10 ten day trial, so you can try it out and decide if it works for you.
Find a meditation community
Find a community that offers meditation classes. Many yoga studios offer free classes. It helps to keep you accountable practising in a group, and there is something special about meditating with other people. If you can’t get to a class in person, this is a wonderful resource that offers free courses online.
Use a timer
Use a meditation timer so you know when to finish and don’t have to worry about the time. A lovely sounding bell will ring when it is time to end your meditation. The Insight Timer is simple to use and free to download.
Set yourself the goal that you will meditate for a short time every day, preferably in the morning. Write your commitment down on paper or in your journal to affirm this.
Be kind to yourself
Take a moment at the end of every meditation to practice gratitude and give yourself thanks. It only takes a moment and you’ll be surprised by how much of an impact it has. We don’t take enough time to appreciate ourselves and honour the steps we are taking to live a life full of love and joy.
“The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live, and die, well.” – Sogyal Rinpoche