Meditation is nothing new; in fact, it’s been done for thousands of years. However, it seems to have received a surge of new interest in the last few years in regards to the general public. If it is something you’re new to, it may seem a little anxiety-inducing at first. What do I do? Where do I sit? What do I think about? How can anyone stay still for that long?
These are all valid and common questions. Consider this your guide to finding that ever elusive inner-peace. You’ll find ways to get ready to meditate and how to guide yourself to an open mind without distracters coming in and throwing you off your game. Plus, think of all the health benefits including decreased anxiety, improved concentration, increased immunity, lower blood pressure, and overall emotional balance. These are some pretty awesome benefits that make meditation worth trying at least a few times.
If you’re interested in some other aspects meditation can help improve, check out Why Meditation (Not Medication) Is the Key to a Happier You by another of our awesome OGP writers and editors. Happy meditating!
1. Wake Up Early
Not a morning person? Yeah, me either. However, meditation is often best first thing in the morning before the stress of the day kicks in and you start worrying about a project from work or even that load of laundry that has been piling up for two weeks. This is a time when your mind is most at ease and still blissful from sleep. Use the calm to help yourself focus during meditation.
Now that your mind is quiet, time to do the same for your body. Do a bit of stretching before assuming your pose and get in touch with your body. Meditation often comprises of both aspects and it will also help you to relax a bit more before starting your session.
3. Find Some Privacy
In our fast-paced lives, phones are constantly ringing, kids are usually demanding things, and companion animals want to lick your face. This is another reason why early in the morning is ideal. Turn off the phone, give the kids a snack, and direct the companion animal to your kids. Try, amidst the sea of distraction, to find 10 to 30 minutes of peace to focus your mind without constant thoughts of what others need.
4. Set The Mood
No, not that mood, but similar. Find yourself some incense, maybe a non-scented soy candle or two and a clear, clean space. Less distraction around you is great. Don’t do your meditation in front of the aforementioned two week pile up of laundry. It’s also ideal to find a space you don’t use for working or sleeping, as your mind will wander to those things instead of staying focused. I prefer some sandalwood incense and a quiet space in my living room.
5. Experiment With Poses
Who says you have to sit pretzel-legged under a willow tree in the middle of a field? If you find your pose uncomfortable, you’re going to have a hard time focusing. Find what works best for you. Some sit with their legs out in front of them, some kneeling or even lying down (but watch out, you might fall asleep!). Try a few to find what works for you.
6. Start With Breathing
In all movies and videos we see, there is always some woman named Flower to guide the characters through breathing techniques. Toward the end, it starts to feel like a Lamaze class. But, heck, Flower’s got it right. Start with concentrating your thoughts on your breathing to create a sense of focus and calm. Don’t turn it into a rigorous exercise, but find the rhythm soothing and methodical.
7. Feel Your Body
Another way to help focus your attention is to focus on your body, one part at a time. Start at your toes, feel them, and work your way up. Feel the arches in your feet, heels, ankles, calves, shins, the list goes on. Try to also feel the internal organs on your way through your torso. Concentrating on that helps to clear the mind of other things to prepare for your meditation.
8. Meditate With Intent
Once you’ve calmed your mind, don’t start thinking about celebrity gossip to kill your 30 minutes that you’ve committed to in your head. Instead, open your mind and let thoughts come and pass. The idea is to have your mind open and relaxed without focusing on one thought for too long. This enables things to come and go and give you a fleeting moment to process, then release the tension surrounding those topics.
9. Notice When You Lose Focus
If you’ve got your mind open, and things are passing through there, and you notice yourself coming back to the same topic time and time again and hashing out different scenarios surrounding the circumstance, realize you’re losing the openness and instead, starting to fixate on a particular thought. When you find yourself losing focus, and you can’t regain it, you can always repeat steps 6 and 7 to refocus, or call it a day.
10. Be Grateful At The End
An important, and often overlooked step, is the last. We have so much to be grateful for in this life, and it’s a wonderful way to end our meditation sessions. Be grateful for the things in your life that you have earned, been given, and lucky enough to overcome. This also helps to end your very calm session and find the strength to conquer your day in a positive manner because, no matter what the world throws at us, we are grateful to be here in the first place.
Lead image source: Neil Crump/Flickr