If you’re interested in learning more about meditation you’ve come to the right place! Meditation is a practice of mindfulness that can have profound effects on both your body and your mind.
Meditation can mean something different to everyone and no one meditation practice is identical. It can be done anytime and anywhere. It can also be a really useful tool in the implementation of other good habits. After mediation, I always feel more ready to take on my workout or meal prepping routine.
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Thankfully, all you need to start meditating is yourself. You don’t need any gear or accessories to meditate well. It can be quite helpful to do guided meditations when you’re first starting. These can be found for free on youtube or you can seek out a subscription service like headspace or balance.
After deciding that you enjoy meditation you may want to invest in some accessories. These may include a meditation cushion or some incense. However, none of these things are required. The only tool that I consistently use in my own mediation practice is my phone’s timer.
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Once you’ve made the decision to start a meditation practice you have to decide to be consistent. Consistency is truly key when it comes to getting better at meditation. My best advice for this would be to start small. Don’t overcommit yourself and aim for an hour long meditation everyday if you’re brand new to the practice.
In the long run, 5 minutes everyday will be much more beneficial to you than a failed 1 hour practice. Finding a set time to do your daily practice is key to maintaining it. For instance, I usually mediate as I drink my coffee every morning. This gives me a specific and tangible trigger that helps me to remember my meditation practice.
How to Meditate?
Meditation, at its core, is awareness of the mind and the present moment. Therefore, that’s all you really need to do to mediate. If you’re feeling a little lost, I highly suggest following along with a guided meditation for beginners. Having audio to focus on and to direct your breathing and thinking can make the task much less daunting.
Many services offer beginner courses in meditation. These often start out with quite short practices (1-3 minutes) and gradually build up to longer, yet manageable, lengths (10-15 minutes). Through a series like this you will be introduced to different patterns of breathing and thought exercises.
As a true beginner, simply slowing your breath may be incredibly beneficial. In time, you will gain more control over your breath and lengthen your inhales and your exhales. You may even be able to extend how long you can hold your breath in-between inhales and exhales. Breathing like this has lasting effects on your health and mood. It has been shown to drastically lower cortisol levels even when only done for a short time.
Some other breathing exercises that you may encounter in your meditation journey include Ocean breath and alternate nostril breathing. Ocean breath is quite simple actually. When breathing with an oceanic breath you intentionally allow your breath to be audible. You then focus on the sound of your breath, or your inner ocean, and find peace within that sound.
Alternate nostril breathing, like it sounds, involves alternating which nostril you’re breathing through. You simply place your thumb or your right nostril, closing it, and then breath in through your left nostril. Then, you use your pointer finger to close off your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril. You can continue this practice for as long as you would like and you can play around with slowing the breath and holding your breath for different increments between inhales and exhales.
Losing focus during meditation is completely normal and even desirable. By losing focus you are able to practice bringing yourself back to focus. Sometimes, when someone first begins mediation they get down on themselves for allowing their mind to focus.
The best way that I’ve heard this phenomena described is to imagine your thoughts as clouds. You can recognize the thought but there is no need to assign a feeling or judgment to that thought. Instead, you just allow it to pass like a cloud in the sky. I’ve found this analogy to be really helpful in allowing me to return to focus and not judge myself for losing focus in the first place.
Meditation can often seem quite daunting to someone that has never done it before. Breaking the practice down to its basics can make it seem much more manageable. Hopefully, this post has done just that!