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3 Tips For Meditation Every Beginner Must Know

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3 Tips For Meditation Every Beginner Must Know

The right tips for meditation are crucial for the success of your meditation practice. More and more people start to meditate every day, searching for peace, solace, and personal improvement.

Many beginners of meditation are wrongly guided and, as a result, there are thousands of courses available for meditation, teaching meditation in various ways—some in a week, other in 10-days course. There are weekend seminars on meditation, most of them making the initiation of your meditation practice even more confusing.

You don’t need to read books or any courses on meditation that go for days or weeks. Use these three tips for meditation, and you’ll experience a quick and proper initiation in the practice of meditation.

Regardless of your knowledge about meditation, if you apply these tips as shown, you’ll experience a meditative state of mind and understand what meditation really is and how to meditate properly.

As a Raja Yoga Teacher, I study and practice meditation for 19 years and my in-depth research into the philosophy and psychology of yoga has given me the knowledge embedded in these tips I’ll show you here.

Meditation Is an Intrinsic Activity

The concept of meditation has developed in the ancient wisdom of the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishad, dating back to the earlier part of the 1st Millennium BCE.

Chandogya Upanishad opens up with the sutra:[1]

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“Let a man meditate on OM.”

Later on, the concept of meditation evolved in traditions as Jainism and Buddhism having various kinds of definitions and techniques. However, all of the definitions aim towards the same purpose and that is to attend and inquire into the human mind.

To give you an easy reference when sharing information about meditation, I’ll refer to the definition of meditation from the original texts of Yoga—the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

“Tatra Pratyayaikatanaataa Dhyaanam”

This means that meditation is the constant focus on an object, subject, image, or thought.

One of the most important things to mention before giving you tips for a successful meditation process is that meditation is not something you can learn outside of yourself—it is a process of internal communication between your ego and your intelligence, happening inside of you.

1. Knowing

For the very beginner of meditation, the first and most important tip on meditation is to know that you attend your mind.

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This tip goes before the tips on how to sit right or meditate at the same time (early or late) at the same corner of your home. Know that meditation can be done at any time (morning, noon, evening), at any place (bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, park, etc.), and in any position (lying, sitting, or standing).

The mental activity of meditation, which has a psychological and spiritual purpose, can’t be conditioned by time, place. or form. This means that before you get busy with the physiological aspects of your meditation practice, you know that you attend:

  • your knowledge,
  • your memories,
  • your imaginations,
  • your misconceptions, and
  • your sleep.

These five mental fluctuations create your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. As a result, you end up in a certain mood—a state of being, that either advances or detriments your progress of meditation.

One of the most common mistakes that beginners do in mediation is getting engaged in the aspects of their body and mind. They have their concentration on those distractions practically throughout the whole meditation exercise where they generate:

  • constant feelings of discomfort;
  • thoughts of inability to perform the practice; and
  • emotions they don’t understand and try to get rid of.

To omit this mistake, pay close attention to this first tip and make it the fundament of your meditation exercise. Make sure you know that you attend your mind so you’ll start meditating.

2. Adjusting

Being a beginner, you can only last a few minutes in the proper meditation process, so it’s inefficient and ineffective to get occupied with your body position, location, place, and time before the realization of the first tip for mediation—the knowledge that you are attending your mind and knowing that this work is intrinsic and instantaneous.

If needed, adjusting can take care of your:

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  • Asana (body posture which can enable you to sit firmly and comfortably for an extended period of time);
  • Pranayama (control of breathing);
  • Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses); and
  • Dharana (concentration).

By the above four, I explicitly mean:

  • Asana: Your body feels firm and comfortable—able to remain in that preferred position for the assigned period of time (5, 10, 15, or even 30 minutes). Don’t think this is a big deal here; this step can take only a few seconds until you have adjusted your body position. For preparing your body to sit firmly and comfortably you can use certain yoga postures (especially the squat pose).
  • Pranayama: Your breathing is flowing smoothly and you follow the streaming of your inhalation and exhalation. Also, this takes only a second. Use breathing exercises to help you feel what pranayama means.
  • Pratyahara: Your senses are withdrawn during the exercise. This doesn’t mean you attempt not to feel your body (hands, legs, skin), like ignoring your sense of touch or some sounds coming from the outside. These attempts are simply distractions for your practice. What you do is just let all the coming signals from the external stimuli flow and pass through your mind without identifying them. This way, the signals will gradually vanish and you won’t notice them anymore. That is a withdrawal of the senses.
  • Dharana: Your mind gets fixed on a certain object. This involves activation of the sense of sight (this makes Pratyahara impossible). Hence, I recommend fixing your mind on your breathing. This ensures the execution of the last three criteria at once (Pranayama, Pratyahara, and Dharana).

Sometimes in your meditation exercises, you’ll need to adjust these four elements more and sometimes less. Once you’re advanced in the practice of meditation, you’ll execute the first and the second tip so perfectly to the point where they are simply a part of you.

3. Observing

After the knowledge you’ve gained from the first tip and the adjustments that you’ve made from the second tip, now you have only one thing left to do: observe. By this, I mean internal observation as introspection.[2]

Dwell in a state of observation of your mental state of being, whatever it is. Meditation is the right thing for you to analyze and focus on yourself, especially when you’re surrounded by negativity.

It is more likely that your mental state of being shifts in the early stage of your practice. Here is the most important confusion between concentration and meditation that practitioners struggle with:

When your state of being shifts, the meditation ends and changes from one subject matter to another, and a new meditation process begins—here the mind concentrates on the new subject matter. If the need for concentration shifts too often and too quickly the practitioner is caught up in practicing concentration and not meditation.

But observing and being aware of that shift, through diligent practicing, the mind will gradually become more and more stable up to the point where you’ll be able to dwell in a mental state of a continuous flow on one subject matter only.

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Marcus Aurelius stated in his book, Meditations, that a diligent practice will make your life happy:

If you do the job in a principled way, with diligence, energy and patience, if you keep yourself free of distractions, and keep the spirit inside you undamaged, as if you might have to give it back at any moment—If you can embrace this without fear or expectation—can find fulfillment in what you’re doing now, as Nature intended, and in superhuman truthfulness (every word, every utterance)—then your life will be happy. No one can prevent that.

Conclusion

Only the effort of observing can make sure you recognize if you’re concentrating or meditating. Once you have mastered that moment, your concentration becomes effortless. Just imagine the beauty of being able to master concentration. This goal stands on everybody’s wish-list.

By mastering meditation, you’d not only master yourself, but you’ll also master life and death. Knowing is the result of rational observing and adjusting makes the process between observing and knowing compact and efficient.

Use these three tips and you’ll see the beauty in meditation and the beauty within you!

More Tips for Meditation

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/S6UT8dEsLMU via unsplash.com

Reference

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Marcin Gil

Marcin is a spiritual being just like anyone challenging to uncover what we already have โ€“ spiritual freedom.

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Published on January 18, 2022

How to Stop Being Anxious And Regain Your Calm

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How to Stop Being Anxious And Regain Your Calm

Are you sick and tired of wasting your mental and emotional energy worrying about (and replaying) events in your mind? Even sabotaging yourself, your performance, and your relationships, at times? Constantly playing the “what if” game in your mind?

Let’s be honest, feeling anxious is miserable and unequivocally sucks the enjoyment out of life. It does this because it is impossible to be in the present moment when you are constantly worried about the future or past events. Here’s the deal—it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s talk about some tips on how to stop being anxious and get your calm back.

The Difference Between Feeling Anxious and Having Anxiety

Feeling anxious is just part of the human experience and is a normal stress response. When the stress is removed, the anxiety usually goes away, too. With an anxiety disorder, the stressful trigger is removed but the anxiety can still be present.[1]

There are multiple anxiety disorders with varying characteristics. If you are concerned that you may have one of them, it is best to be evaluated by your doctor, especially since anxiety is very common. According to research, up to 33% of all Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime.[2]

What Can You Do to Manage Feeling Anxious?

The good news is there’s a lot that you can do to stop being anxious. Science is learning more and more every day about ways we can manage feeling anxious.

I am a strong believer in being proactive and preventative. If you have a lot of stress in your life or are prone to feeling anxious, I always recommend establishing a foundation of good daily habits. That way, when something happens to poke the anxiety bear, you are already in a position to handle things.

Twenty tips may be overwhelming for some people but remember: you are not expected to incorporate every tip on this list. Look at it as a menu of potential helpful options. You can pick and choose whatever you want and leave the rest.

Here are 20 tips on how to stop being anxious:

1. Eat the Right Food

It might come as a surprise to some, but certain foods can make anxiety worse, such as sugary foods, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.[3]

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Here are some foods you can try instead that can help reduce anxiety: Brazil nuts, fatty fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, Turmeric, Chamomile, yogurt, and green tea.[4]

2. Stay Hydrated

One simple tip to help you stop being anxious is by staying hydrated. Even being mildly dehydrated has been shown to worsen anxiety.[5] So, drink up! Water, that is.

3. Work Some Mindfulness Into Your Day

This one shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Meditation and diaphragmatic breathing (breathing into your belly and engaging your abdominals upon exhale) are what usually come to mind, but there are some other fast and easy exercises that can help calm you down almost immediately.

One of my favorites is called Five Things, and it’s based upon our five senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch). It can be done in any order.

For example, you might start by picking five things you can see. As you list each item, it’s important to take in the detail of each one. Next, you pick four things you can feel, noting each item with the same attention to detail. Work your way down to one item accompanying your last sense.

4. Get Some Exercise

Completing 30 minutes of exercise three to five days a week may significantly improve symptoms of anxiety. Even as little as 10 minutes has a positive impact.[6]

In one study, exercise was shown to be as effective as medication in the treatment of symptoms of anxiety, with higher intensity exercise more effective than lower intensity exercise.[7]

5. Sit With It/Observe It

Dr. Judson Brewer recently penned a book (and an app) entitled Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind in which he discusses turning toward our emotions as a way to process them rather than distracting ourselves or bottling things up (turning away).

He encourages people to be an observer of the emotional response in their bodies, almost as if conducting a research project in great detail and noting the exact location of physical sensations (stomach, right or left side, front or back) with as much detail as possible.

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6. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an approach that utilizes the cyclical connection between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a means to control unwanted (anxious) thoughts.

One exercise to stop ruminating thoughts includes picturing a stop sign in great detail, instructing yourself to “stop,” and then changing the narrative to something positive, encouraging, or even more realistic or likely.

Another CBT exercise involves challenging negative thought patterns and beliefs for validity by asking yourself:

  • Is there evidence for my thought or am I making assumptions?
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Is this likely?
  • What’s the best that could happen?
  • What’s most likely to happen?
  • Will this matter in a week, a year, or five years from now?

7. Realize What You Can and Can’t Control

Take action where you can. Many of us spend time worrying and feeling anxious over things we can’t control.

Figure out what you can do and take action from there. Studies show that taking action reduces anxiety.[8]

8. Gratitude

Reminding ourselves of the good things in our lives not only brings positivity to us but also reduces anxiety. This is because it is neurologically impossible for our brain to focus on negative and positive information at the same time.[9]

9. Volunteer or Do Something for Someone Else

Helping others feels good. It also reduces stress, boosts our immune system, and can help us live longer.[10]

10. Journal in the 3rd Person

The practice of journaling has long been known as a valuable tool to help us manage our emotions, and it can also help us stop being anxious and regain our calm.

Making a point to name the emotions you are experiencing (“name it to tame it”) is a principle Dr. Dan Siegel discovered that heightens the value of journaling. More recently, Dr. Kross, in his book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It, noted that journaling in the 3rd person (as if narrating your life) creates further value by creating some distance between you and the emotion you are experiencing, thus allowing you to breathe easier and gain perspective.

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11. Go Out Into Nature

Spending time in nature has been shown to improve attention, lower stress, improve mood, reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders, and even cause upticks in empathy and cooperation.[11]

12. Spend Time With Animals

Dogs are not only your best friend, but it turns out they are good for your mental and emotional health, too. The fact that cats just allow you to live with them as their servant doesn’t detract from the positive impact they also have on our emotional well-being.

Spending time cuddling with your pet on the couch can decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have also found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.[12]

13. Get Good Sleep

Getting good sleep can be difficult when we feel anxious, but being tired can worsen the issue. Try sticking to a consistent bedtime, make your bedroom dark, the temperature cool, and limit screen time before going to sleep.

14. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

Alcohol changes the level of neurotransmitters in our brain. This can lead to a heightened sense of anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant, specifically stimulating our fight or flight response, which is already more sensitive for those struggling with anxiety. Use both in moderation.

15. Show Yourself Compassion and Encouragement

What would you say to your best friend? Many times we make things worse by shaming or berating ourselves for feeling anxious because we fear it makes us appear weak or vulnerable. This makes the problem worse.

What would your best friend say to you? Stop beating yourself up and be your own best friend.

16. Spend Time With Friends

Healthy friendships make us feel included, improve self-confidence and self-esteem, and thus, help reduce anxiety.[13]

17. Create Balance in Your Life

Set healthy boundaries and priorities, and don’t be afraid to enforce them. Nobody else can do this for you. Value yourself. You are worth it.

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18. Have a Plan

Another tip to help you stop being anxious is to have a plan. Knowing what you will do takes away a lot of the “what if” thoughts in your mind. Being certain about some things and managing your expectations can help give you peace of mind.

19. Remind Yourself of a Past Event

You can also try to remind yourself of a past event in your life that you were anxious about but still ended up okay. Have confidence that you will make it through this situation, too.

20. Have Some Structure or Routine in Your Day

Knowing what to expect can significantly reduce anxiety and the fear that can accompany uncertainty.[14] Give yourself as much structure as you need. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to manage feelings of being anxious. Take charge and pick a few of these to try out. Be consistent, and see how you feel.

You can always discard what doesn’t work for you, and pick something else to try. Confide in a friend that you are implementing some new strategies, and get some support.

Always tell your doctor your concerns, and don’t hesitate to get help if you are having difficulty managing things on your own. Good luck!

More Tips for Calming Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

Reference

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