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5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk

5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk

Day after day, you sit on the cushion, but every time you commit to sit your thoughts pull you away. Or maybe it’s not your mind, but it’s your body: your legs fall asleep, your back starts to hurt, and pretty soon all you can think about is the tightness in your spine. Day after day this is your cycle.

You’ve heard the benefits of meditation, but you only leave the cushion more stressed out. The issue isn’t your dedication: I’d like to lay out a few tips that will help rekindle your love of meditation and maybe help you go deeper than you’ve ever gone.

1. Create a space

Sometimes we carry all of our problems, issues, and worries onto the cushion with us. Instead of starting with an open mind, we start with a mind that’s already in a fury. We’re worried we don’t have time to meditate, or it’s going to make us late for work. What we need to do is inject some space, and we can do this simply by dedicating a certain area of our room to meditation. Maybe it’s a corner that we decorate with a rug or some shrine, or a picture of our loved ones. Whatever it is, just make sure it invokes a sense of peace within you.

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Before you set foot in that space, make sure to go in with a clear head and positive intentions. Do your best to leave your problems off the cushion, or out of your corner. It might seem silly, but ask your mind if it could mellow out for a moment. Offer a reward for your mind once you’re out of meditation—just make sure to follow through.

2. Get rid of expectations

So many of us have the expectation that the moment we engage in meditation we’re going to be calm, serene, and forget about our daily stresses. When our experience doesn’t measure up to the image in our minds, then we get discouraged. Instead of letting whatever comes up arise and pass, we let ourselves get caught up. The secret is going into your practice with no expectation of an outcome. Think of this practice as allowing you to go beyond your thoughts.

Think of your thoughts as a raging waterfall; now imagine that you’re in the cave behind the waterfall, letting your thoughts flow by. There’s no need to get caught up in the stream.

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3. Don’t force or judge

This goes hand-in-hand with setting expectations for our practice. We often demand too much of ourselves, not letting ourselves ease into our new practice. We make ourselves sit for an hour every day, or at least hold the expectation we should be doing this. The key here is to demand less.

Don’t force yourself to sit if it hurts your body, and don’t force yourself to sit longer than you can endure. Instead, think of your practice as something that builds slowly over time. Start small—try five minutes a day. The benefits are more tangible and actually increase faster when you use continual steady effort, similar to compound interest.

Over time, you’ll find it easier to sit for longer and longer periods. Start small and you’ll have huge gains in the long run.

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4. Use an anchor

We expect that once we sit down and resume a posture that our thoughts will stop, as we’re seeking a state that is complete emptiness. Instead of beating yourself up every time you get taken away by the current of thought, just remind yourself to come back. This should be a gentle nudge; laugh at yourself if you have to.

The key here is to have an anchor, such as your breath. When you get washed away and start engaging in thought, just try and remind yourself to come back to your breath. What you’re doing is building awareness: The more often you realize you’re caught up in thought, the less often you’ll actually get wrapped up.

When in doubt, start to follow your breath.

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5. Use technology to drop you into a deeper state

If you’ve tried everything above and nothing seems to be working, you might need a little assistance. There’s a certain kind of audio track called “binaural beats”: what they do is play sounds at a certain frequency that your mind can align with. This is usually coupled with other relaxing sounds, such as waves crashing or birds chirping. This combination of sounds gives your mind something to focus on, while at the same time your mind syncs up with the lower frequency tones, bringing your meditation to a deeper state.

If you want to boost your meditation practice and drop into deeper states than you’ve ever been, give the above tips a try, make some space for one or two of them in your routine. Remember that the lasting benefits of meditation really kick in once you’ve established a set routine.

Happy meditating.

More by this author

Kevin Wood

Poet and Writer

How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person 7 Ways To Open Your Heart to The World 5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk The Minimalist Guide to Creativity Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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