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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

3 Tips For Meditation Every Beginner Must Know

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

More by this author

Marcin Gil

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

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

Stress affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, when it does, it takes over, making it difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion, and self-care ideas go out the window.

However, this is the moment when self-care is the most important. When you notice that you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or powerful emotions, it’s time to get back to a sense of balance by showing yourself love and compassion.

How Does Stress Show Up?

On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response through the stress hormone, cortisol.

According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios.

Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as life-threatening, and we become locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

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On a mental and emotional scale, stress affects your thoughts, feelings, and ultimately your behavior. Everything is interconnected. When stress takes a toll on our bodies, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

Self-Care Ideas to Combat Stress

Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being, so it’s important to turn to self-care ideas in these moments.

One exercise to get this under control is called a brain dump, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up.

Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph.

Don’t focus on how it looks or how well it’s organized. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

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Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are—they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

2. Sweat It out

There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body, mostly in our neck, shoulders, and hips. If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America[3]:

“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week for your mental and physical health. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why spending time in a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

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In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution and a great addition to our self-care routine.

Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice)

4. Interrupt Your Day

When it comes to self-care ideas, this may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also help you de-stress

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As I said above, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing to feel good.

5. Get Some Energy Work Done

Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, a Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture[4].

Moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional.

In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment, making it a beautiful way to squeeze in self-care!

You can find even more stress management techniques in the following video:

Final Thoughts

Stress is, unfortunately, a common part of every life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state.

This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed again, but they will certainly help you manage it better and offer amazing health benefits along the way.

More Self-Care Ideas

Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
[2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress
[4] Medical Acupuncture: Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress Over Time? A Clinical Heart Rate Variability Study in Hypertensive Patients

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