I’m sure you’ve heard or read about the benefits of having a meditation routine, but you might still feel a bit hesitant to start because you find the whole concept of meditating too daunting, or you think that you need a lot of time to practice meditation.
Or maybe, you tried it a few times but it felt frustrating because you felt your mind overflown with thoughts and you might have felt overwhelmed, and probably told yourself that you’re not good at it.
In this article, I’ll share basic concepts about the real purpose of meditation, the benefits of incorporating this sacred practice into your life and simple tips to follow, so you can clear away the obstacles to your daily practice and learn some basic practicing exercises that will make a positive difference in your life.
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Your body and mind on morning meditation
Meditation is a great tool to maintain a healthy balance of dialogue between your mind and your body. It is a simple technique that you can practice anytime and anywhere to alleviate stress. Just like physical exercise, the more you practice, the more benefits you’ll notice and the longer they will last – in both, mind and body.
A study by The American Psychological Association reported that 40 percent of the people they surveyed reported overeating or eating unhealthy foods as a result of stress, while 46 percent said they lie awake at night due to high stress levels.
Here’s the thing: you can focus on eating healthier, exercising more frequently, getting more sleep, using more natural products on our skin and at home, but if you don’t take care of your mind, you will still feel unbalanced in your life.
Meditation makes you have a cleaner body and clearer mind:
A Harvard study showed that meditating can help decrease stress and anxiety levels which in turn will diminish inflammation in our bodies, reduce blood pressure, improve attention, sleep better, help us make smarter choices and regulate our thoughts, so we don’t jump so fast into reacting and judging.
Meditation helps to reduce stress, but a great benefit is that you will find peace within, the peace that spiritual traditions talk about that passes all understanding. One of the biggest goals of meditation is that you tune in with yourself and connect with your center, to get in touch with the energy of “oneness”.
Meditation is a way to get in the space between your thoughts. You have a thought here, a thought there and there’s little space between every thought that is called stillness – this space is the gateway to the infinite mind and that sense of divine connection.
Clearing the obstacles to morning meditation
The most common obstacles to meditation are the ones that we create ourselves, even if sometimes we are not aware.
Here are a few of the most common ways we tend to resist starting a new meditation practice and what to do about it:
“I don’t have time.”
There’s a misconception that you need to sit down to meditate for at least 30 minutes to an hour. You can start your daily practice investing anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. You can set the rules for yourself! You just need to commit to starting.
Start small, and as you practice more consistently I can tell you that you’ll start adding more time to your practice.
“I can’t sit still.”
Do meditation your own way. Some people don’t like sitting but they enjoy walking meditations.
Dr. Kelly McGonigal suggests a 10 minute walking meditation involving 1 minute of paying attention to each of the feelings of your body while walking, the feeling of your breath, the sensations of air or wind on your skin, what you can hear, and what you can see.
“My mind never stops.”
It is normal to feel frustration while learning to meditate. Shifting your expectations will help in overcoming this obstacle.
Always focus on subtle incremental improvements. A great achievement is to gradually understand your mind and learn how to shift negative thinking.
Basic morning meditation techniques
Every good meditation practice begins with finding what works best for you. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to meditate since there are different techniques or styles of meditation.
Here are a few of them:
- Breathing meditation – You can use this technique alone as a meditation to calm your mind and reduce distractions. Simply focus your attention on your breath, the inhale and exhale. This video can help you with this.
- Candle staring – This is great if you find it hard focusing. Just light a candle and stare at it. Your attention will be held. If your mind has thoughts, just thank them and go back to staring at the candle.
- Mantra meditation – Repeating words can help you find calm and focus. Here are 8 powerful mantras for deep inner peace.
- Guided meditation – There are many resources online that have guided meditations and music to help you relax. Just google “guided meditation” and you’ll find tons of resources.
- Walking meditation – We cover that one above — a 10 minute walking meditation involving 1 minute of paying attention to each of the feelings of your body while walking, the feeling of your breath, the sensations of air or wind on your skin, what you can hear, and what you can see.
- Mindfulness meditation – Mindfulness is about recognizing what is happening in the present moment, including what is arising and passing. This includes thoughts, sounds, feelings in the body and anything else present. The idea is to just observe without judgment, and remain open and aware. Here is a step-by-step guide to practice mindfulness in your day-to-day life.
Experiment different techniques and stick to what works best for you.
The guided morning meditation
If you have never meditated before or if you haven’t meditated in a long time, I recommend that you start with 5-10 minutes. With practice, you’ll be able to sit for longer periods of time.
You can set an intention before you begin, but start your practice without attachment to any particular outcome or how your meditation practice “should” be. Just be open to experience what you’re meant to receive from every practice.
The best time to meditate is early in the morning (before your coffee or tea), that way you set yourself up for a peaceful start to your day. Follow these simple steps to start you meditation practice:
- Find a place that will be your sacred space for meditation. Try to pick a room that is free from a lot noise or distractions, and make it cozy. You can add relaxing background music, light a candle and/or incense, or diffuse a relaxing essential oil.
- Choose a time. Make meditation a priority, set an appointment with yourself and practice at the same time every day and see this as feeding your soul. Some people like to meditate right before they go to bed, this will help you sleep more soundly.
- Wear comfortable clothes. For example your PJ’s.
- Sit comfortably. You can sit on a cushion on the floor, on your couch or a chair. Try to have backrest so you can keep your back erect. You don’t need to try fancy yogi postures at the beginning. Don’t lay down because most likely, you’ll fall asleep. Just sit still and straight.
- Set a timer.
- Always start your meditation practice with 5 to 7 long and slow deep breaths so you can start releasing tension.
- Then just start focusing your mind on an object. It could be the flame of a candle, your breathing or repeating a mantra like “I am”.
- Just know that you’ll have thoughts, you might feel sensations in your body and you might hear sounds in your environment. It’s all normal. Whenever you become conscious of that, just go back to the object you were focusing on, or go back to paying attention to your breathing again, or repeating your mantra, but do it mentally without moving your lips and your tongue.
Even if you feel like you didn’t accomplish much with your practice on a specific day, be consistent. Honor and acknowledge yourself for taking the time to practice. Even if you feel that the effects are not obvious, be grateful for your practice and in no time you’ll be glad you started!
Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io