I have to admit, the concept of meditation seemed very out there to me a year ago. I respected the practice, but after a couple of failed attempts, I told myself that I could never get into it. The problem with meditation is that it seems like such a foreign concept to most people. You think of people meditating for hours….people who are supposedly thinking about not thinking….what?!
At one point, however, my friend convinced me to give it a real shot by using my favorite life tip…starting small. Today, I can say that while I’m still a beginner, I’ve come to love my meditation practice and I’ve become….one of those people. Well, not quite yet. But I meditate at least 3x a week, and I’m working on increasing that to a daily activity. I’m recognizing the importance of meditation in my life and all the things it’s doing for my mind, body, and general wellness.
The hardest part was actually starting! So I wanted to share a few tips with those of you who may have already read or heard about meditation, but are struggling to get started.
1. Understand that your meditation practice is your OWN practice.
Just because your friend does it every day first thing in the morning, that does not mean that you have to do it that way too. Find the time, the posture, the chair, whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable. Once you have a basic understanding of the practice, feel free to follow your own rules to meditation.
2. It’s ok to be feeling fidgety.
I used to think I wasn’t “doing it right” because I would feel antsy or my mind would be drifting, or I would be wondering “…ok, how long has it been and when is this over”. That’s actually totally normal, especially in the beginning of your practice. Understand that identifying these thoughts is actually part of the meditation process. So no, you’re not doing it wrong and that doesn’t mean that you’re just not cut out for meditation, as I used to think.
3. Start small.
This is my favorite tip in life! Don’t jump into it thinking you have to meditate for 20 minutes. Or even 10 minutes. or even 5 minutes. Seriously, try just meditating for ONE minute. Although that might seem minuscule, if you do one minute a day for a week, you’ll begin training your mind. You can always increase the time, but it’s the beginning of your practice where you need to start small to build a strong foundation. So start small and build up!
4. Understand meditation’s purpose in your life.
What are you trying to achieve through meditation? For many people, they become interested in meditation after going through a stressful event or are in need of healing. For many people, like me, it’s a way to deal with daily stress or anxiety. It helps me stay more calm through the many ups and downs in my life. It helps center me, sooner than the me-before-meditation would be centered.
5. Know that refocusing on your breath is your best tool…in meditation and in LIFE.
As you find your mind being distracted, I always center my thoughts back to my breath. It’s an easy fix and the core to the meditation practice. For me, I often start meditating, identify drifting thoughts, and refocus using my breath. In a way, this is exactly the practice that I wish to mimic in my life. Before I act or allow my nervous system to be impacted by ups and downs, I stop, identify my thoughts, refocus, and awaken with clarity, purpose, and calmness.
6. Try it with a friend.
Do you have a friend who has been meditating for awhile? When I started to get into meditation, it was because a friend of mine would encourage me to do it when we were together. It seems kind of childish, but meditating with a friend made sure that I was accountable to the length for which I committed to meditate. It also felt easier knowing that someone else was in the room with me doing the same thing for him/herself.
I hope these tips help ground the concept of meditation for you! Anyone can do it – and starting small is, in my opinion, the most sustainable way to incorporate this amazing practice into your life. Meditation isn’t just for yogis and “zen people”, it’s also for real people like you and me.