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Meditation and it’s multiple benefits have become very well known in today’s world, and with the fast paced busy lives many of us live, we need it now more than ever.
The problem is that beginning the practice itself can feel extremely intimidating and overwhelming.
The media has made newcomers to mediation believe that it is supposed to “come naturally” and that you should have it down on your first try.
This is not only unrealistic, but thinking like this is setting you up for failure! Meditation is a journey in itself, and the progress is never ending. In order to be successful in meditation, you must learn to love the journey.
The goal of this article is to provide you with the essentials to start your very own meditation practice, along with realistic expectations you should have in order to implement it into your daily practice. Let us begin!
The Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has a plethora of benefits on your overall well-being such as:
-it helps eliminate stress and anxiety
-increases your ability to focus
-improves overall mood
-encourages self awareness
Meditating as little as 10 minutes a day can have a substantial impact on your life. When I was in the police academy I meditated for 30 minutes after my longest shift when I knew I had to wake up my earliest the following morning. Just meditating once a week had a huge impact on my life in such a positive way. I was able to work a 14 hour shift easily after sleeping 3 hours. A day that had once been torturous to me had become completely doable after implementing meditation into my practice. Imagine the benefits of implementing it into your practice everyday.
What You Will Need
The good thing about meditation is that you do not necessarily need anything, you can literally meditate anytime, anywhere.
But to get started, you are going to want to have an optimal environment and be the most comfortable you could possibly be in order to promote focus.
Here are the 3 things I suggest having:
1.(and I believe the most important) Find a quiet space. The idea of focusing on your breath is already hard to someone that is new to meditation, but doing it in a stimulating environment can make it feel almost impossible. Do not set yourself up for failure and follow this step. I know you may have kids, or have errands to run, or are at work all day. It is hard to find a moment to yourself sometimes. All you need is 10 minutes. Wake up 10 minutes early, go to bed ten minutes late, hide in the bathroom for 10 minutes. That is all you need. We spend ten minutes doing a lot of things we do not need to spend ten minutes on, like scrolling on facebook, or watching television. You owe it to yourself to make this small change- I guarantee you will feel it is worth it.
2.Set up a timer. The point of meditation is to focus on the present moment, which you definitely can’t do if you are worried about how much time has passed. Get a kitchen timer, or just use an app on your phone and set it for the amount of time you want to meditate, and then release the concept of time from your thoughts.
3.(Optional) Get a chair. For many people beginning meditation, it is difficult to maintain a straight posture the whole time, which is pertinent to the practice. Having good posture encourages concentration and allows your energy to flow freely. Sitting in a chair makes it much easier to maintain a straight posture than sitting on the floor. But if sitting on the floor or on a pillow is easier for your back, then do that! Do whatever makes it the easiest for you to maintain an easy upright posture to the point where you are comfortable and are not struggling to maintain it.
How To Meditate
1. Set yourself up in a comfortable upright position in a quiet room.
2. Set your timer for the amount of time you want to meditate.
3. Take a deep breath. Exhale and shut down the eyes gently.
4. Begin by doing a body scan. Mindfully bring awareness to each part of your body, starting with the top of your head, leading all the way down to your toes. Feel for any discomforts or feelings you didn’t notice before. The point here is not to dwell on the feelings or discomforts, it is simply to bring awareness to them and notice they are there.
5. Begin to focus on your breath. Notice the inhale and exhale. Sometimes it helps your focus to count the seconds of your inhale and exhale. For example, inhale while counting to four, then exhale counting to four. You can do this until you figure out the amount of time that is right for you.
6. Your thoughts WILL start to jump around in your mind. Meditation is not about controlling these thoughts, it is about taking notice of them and not allowing yourself to be identified with them. A good visual exercise that may help is to picture your thoughts as bubbles, and as they come into your mind, take notice of them, and then allow them to float away as you come back to your center.
7. Do this until your timer alarms. Take another inhale and exhale, and open your eyes. You have just began your meditation practice!
Tips For Success
1.Erase your expectations. Do not expect to immediately get meditation down your first few times. You WILL feel frustration when you first begin your practice. Your mind will wander, you’ll be uncomfortable in the position you’re in and need to change, you’ll have a hard time focusing on your breath. This is all apart of the journey.
2.Focus on self love. It is very easy when we first begin something new to negatively talk to ourselves out of frustration of not getting it perfect the first time. Have patience with yourself and applaud yourself for having the ambition and willpower to embark on this new practice.
3.Learn to love the journey. This goes for most things in life as well, do not focus on the outcome. Learn to love the process of self development and growth. If you are constantly focused on the end result, you will never be satisfied or fully reap the benefits of the practice itself. Stay present in the moment and love the process of it all.
A Final Note
I hope this article as served as a practical guide for you to begin your practice. There are so many different ways to meditate and this article only discussed one of them. When you experience struggle, remember it is all apart of your amazing journey.
I would love to hear in the comments below about your experience beginning your practice and any other struggles you may be facing. If you have any other questions I would be happy to answer them to the best of my ability to aid you in your process.
Cheers to your journey!
Ally is the co-founder of GroundedPanda.com with her fiance Victor. She began practicing yoga at the beginning of her career as a Registered Nurse to cope with the physical and mental stress it put on her, and fell in love with it. Her goal is to help beginners develop a fulfilling practice without the intimidation. Besides managing this website, she loves hiking with her loving fiance and cuddling with her two silly cats.