Meditation and mindfulness are increasingly the go-to as tools for addressing chronic experiences of stress, anxiety, pain, and depression. Both have proven to lower heart rate, relax the body and mind, and create a sense of peace and calm.
For some regular meditation can even become a transcendent experience.
All sounds good, right? But where do your start?
The idea of meditation can seem intimidating, there are so many styles it is hard to know where to start. So keep it simple, you don’t start exercising by running a marathon, so don’t expect to happily sit for an hour on your first session, start with five minutes and build your way from there.
To start your meditation practice here are my top four tips.
Let go of judgement
Let go of the, 'there is only one way to do this right' story. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. Want to lie down to meditate? Go for it. Want to sit, stand, or even walk, that's all fine too. There are many different forms of meditation and finding what works for you is important.
These days I mostly meditate alone, however group meditation can be powerful, and classes can be helpful when you are first starting, especially if it is a guided meditation. Want to go it alone? There are apps and videos online where you can access guided meditations as well.
Once you do take the plunge and start to meditate, here is where this tip really comes into play.
Your mind will want to judge everything;
- ‘Am I sitting right’
- ‘am I meditating for long enough?’
- ‘am I being selfish? There are other things I should be doing’
- ‘I am having thoughts, I shouldn't be having thoughts, I can't stop thinking, I must suck at this’
- ‘I just feel more stressed’
- ‘I can't relax’.
These thoughts are all absolutely normal and quite common but don’t buy into them, remember the goal here is not to judge.
It is rare to shut your conscious thoughts off completely, so don't try. Instead see them, acknowledge them, and let them go. Remember no judging, there is no right or wrong. Some people like to see their thoughts as clouds passing through the sky or leaves on a river floating downstream. I like to just like to say thank you and let them move on until the next one arises.
Don't make yourself a slave to the clock. Five minutes once a day can be as beneficial as an hour once a week. Meditation is not a competition nor a marathon. Allow yourself the freedom to do what fits into your life. If you have only 15mins to spare, put a timer on so you are not distracted checking the clock. Give yourself permission to meditate in a way that fits you and your lifestyle, and that might be three minutes a day locked in the bathroom each morning while the kids have their breakfast! Start where you can and build from there.
Find your mantra
Mantras are a great way to focus the monkey mind, those chattery, jumping thoughts that don't seem to leave you alone. As I said before, a completely still mind is rarely attainable, so a mantra can help to distract the creator of those distractions, your conscious ego mind. By finding or creating a mantra to repeat to yourself you can occupy your mind while you relax. My mantra is simply Thank You, I say it with each breath and with each thought or feeling that arises.
Breathe through your heart
This uses your imagination and awareness to shift you from your head into your heart. As you meditate, bring your awareness to your breathing, feel your lungs moving and the air coming into and out of your body. Then shift that awareness to the centre of your chest, over your heart. Imagine your breath coming in and out of your body at this point. Feel this space open and relax. When we do this, we are telling our entire system, heart, body, mind, and soul that we are open and ready to tune into the frequency of Love. Feel the difference it makes.
Meditation doesn’t have to be hard just remember, let go of judgement, suspend time, find your mantra, and breath through your heart.
You’ve got this!