Meditation Basics for Beginners
Most people either swear by meditation or cringe at the idea of it. Sitting still and thinking about nothing for a set period of time? It can seem boring or downright impossible. Some, however, wish they could take advantage of the many benefits and simply don’t know where to start. If you want to include meditation into your routine but aren’t sure how to begin, use this checklist to guide you through the process.
Create a meditation space. This doesn’t mean you need a separate room, lit candles or a fancy mat. But when you’re getting ready to meditate — whether it be for two minutes or two hours — make sure your environment is conducive to being at peace. Switch your phone to silent, wear comfortable clothes, and even turn down the lights if you need to.
Sit or lie down comfortably. This one’s a little tricky. You don’t want to be in a position in which you know you’re likely to fall asleep (unless, of course, you’re meditating to fall asleep). But you should be in a position that’s comfortable and won’t have you constantly adjusting. The easiest way to do this is to start out in a chair or cross-legged on the floor.
Start small. You don’t need to go ham by starting out with a 60-minute meditation each day. Really — you shouldn’t. No one’s keeping score, and the length of time you meditate is not directly correlated to how calm you will be. Know your limits. Just two minutes a day is enough time to find your focus.
Try guided meditations. One of the most difficult aspects of meditation that people complain about is the impossibility of clearing your mind. The good thing is this isn’t a necessary part of meditation. There are multiple forms of meditation, many of which you accept the thoughts that come into your head and simply observe them. But if you’re wanting to clear your mind and need an extra push, try using a guided meditation on Spotify or YouTube to walk you through the process.
Give yourself grace. Meditation is designed to be an act of self-love and self-care, and yet for some reason, many of us continue to beat ourselves up for not doing it the “right” way. Forgive yourself, be patient, and continue to guide your mind to a place of rest without reprimanding yourself for not living up to your own expectations.
Find a community. While meditation should be for yourself, finding friends to meditate with can be a great way to keep you accountable. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to find new ways of doing things when what you’re doing doesn’t seem to work, and a great source of grace and forgiveness when you have a hard time providing that on your own.
Set a timer. Distraction is one of the deadliest things to harm your meditation practice. To make sure you get rid of as much as you can, set a calm, relaxing timer on your phone that will let you know when your time is up. When it goes off, meditation time is done, even if you feel it could have been better.
Try different tactics. Meditation is not a one-size-fits-all practice. Some find focus by counting their breaths, others by watching a candleflame. Research different tactics for soothing your mind, and talk to local instructors about different ways that might work best for you.
Try different types of meditations. Different traditions approach meditation differently. In some branches, the form and movement of your body is very important to the way you meditate. Others encourage you to sit however is comfortable. Still some sects of the practice utilize verbal cues, while others emphasize silence. Try a few different forms to see what fits best.
Stick with it. It’s called a practice for a reason. The only way to reap the benefits of meditation is to trust in its process and commit to it long enough to see its results. Continue to practice different forms, tactics and strategies, but forming a routine — whether it be two times a week or two times a day — is vital to creating a healthy practice.
- Lifestyle Staff