The ultimate tip in meditation is simply allowing yourself to be. I wanted to ensure I started this article on the right note, without placing too much emphasis and rigid rules on something that’s meant to help you center yourself.
For some, meditation is repeating a powerful and meaningful mantra, in order to increase their own vibrations. For others, it is opening or realigning of their chakras to feel rooted and connected. For many however, meditation means sitting or lying still, saying OM and eventually reaching enlightenment. Meditation can be all of those things and it can also be none of those things. I will list some simple ways to help you begin meditation, without pressure or expectation, if that’s what you need but also how to recognize meditation in its many forms.
1. Turn off your phone and limit distractions
I need to start here in order to point out that meditation is a selfish endeavor to help you become more selfless. In order to begin a deep meditation, you must focus on the very things you do regularly. One simple trick is to breathe in counting to four, hold your breath for another count of four and release on the final count of four. Repeating this simple habit during meditation can calm your thoughts, keep you in the present moment and bring tremendous relaxation.
It’s hard to focus on your breath with the TV in the background or your phone buzzing with alerts and texts every few minutes. Give yourself the time to breathe. When you position it that way, you can find five minutes in your busy day to simply sit and breathe.
2. Get comfortable
A lot of meditative poses and stances look incredible in pictures but feel very uncomfortable. Don’t worry about your hands or being in the lotus position. Simply find a spot you feel safe and at ease in and a position you’re comfortable holding for at least five minutes. This is a brief indulgent period of time you’re carving for yourself so whatever essentials (pillow, blanket, a fan…) will help should be considered beforehand.
3. Put on some music
Often when starting meditation, it’s the sudden silence that’s unsettling. The same silence contrasts the rambling thoughts dashing around your head. Find music you find soothing online or through a free app on your phone before beginning your meditation. That simple step will get you nice and relaxed, aiding once you begin to focus on your breath.
Another choice I personally find very helpful is guided meditation. Sometimes, you simply don’t know what to do and you spend all your focus wondering if you’re doing it right. Following a guided meditation allows you to simply listen to the voice of your guide and allowing yourself to fall into a meditative trance.
4. Allow your thoughts
A huge myth of meditation is that you have to stop thinking. By simply following the first step listed and focusing on your breath, on the silent gratitude you feel for being able to inhale and exhale, your thoughts will inevitably slow down. You don’t have to banish them or exert too much energy on trying to control them.
Let them flow at first, focusing on everything, including the colors you see when your eyes are closed and slowly let them go. Don’t shoo them away rudely like unwanted guests, just let them go as if they’re memories that will return to you again. Let go of judgments about everything, especially about whether you are doing this the right or wrong way. If you can’t succeed with slowing your thought process at first, just focus on the positive and keep breathing.
5. Allow your emotions
Being connected to yourself often means allowing everything to flow through you with acceptance. Meditation will teach you to respect your many emotions and try to understand them rather then quickly trying to rationalize or avoid them. When you feel fear, it’s no longer your mind judging you for being weak. Meditation will turn that into an inquiry, to search for the root of that fear. Treating your emotions as valid will lead to greater self-love and patience as you work through small and big issues alike and prevent them from reoccurring so frequently.
6. Practice meditation
Meditation is no different from any other exercises or aspiration in your life. The more you meditate, the easier it will be to make this a habit. Start small if needed, with five minutes a day and once you begin to enjoy the calm that this practice bring, repeat it for another five minutes at night before bedtime. Aim to meditate at least three times per week.
7. Be Patient
Even the wisest man starts with one wise thought. Every time you fail at meditation, remind yourself that there is no failure because you paused, you breathed, you relaxed. Some days you will be more distracted than on others, some days might feel more fluid once you begin your practice. Pat yourself to sticking with it long enough to experience both type of days. Be patient with your practice and be kind to yourself.
8. Keep yourself accountable
Keep a calendar or a meditation journal handy to jot down the days you’ve successfully completed your practice. This will help to keep you motivated. The journal is a great tool for noting any of the pressing thoughts you either accepted or derailed during your meditation. As you practice more often, you might even be able to make strong realizations that can help or guide you personally.
It’s a lot easier to sit or lay in a relaxed manner and delve deep into yourself when you don’t have any grudges or heavy emotions tearing at you. As you make meditation a habit, it will be easier to let go of things that no longer serve you and to harness your energy, effort, will and heart into the present – where you belong.
10. Grateful meditation
If you’re too restless for standard meditation and simply can’t grasp sitting still, there’s something else you can do every day that’s just as simple and beneficial. Start with a minute, a pen and a piece of paper. Write down three things you are grateful for. Most people have to think a bit to jot three things down.
That moment of reflection and appreciation on the little things in life is meditation. The hint of smile, internal or external, as you realize the things you’re grateful for today is meditation. Once you finish jotting them down, drop your pen and hold on to that feeling for another minute and say Thank you. To the universe. To yourself. To the present.
Featured photo credit: Sleeping Buddha by Matt Westgate via flickr.com