I practice meditation most days. I am by no means an expert and the truth of the matter is that I found beginning a meditation practice challenging. However, it has, by far, been worth the effort and perseverance and I don’t know where I would be without it now.
I imagine that you have heard of the many benefits of meditation from reducing stress and anxiety to helping us develop a more positive outlook on life, even when things are not going our way. If you are a beginner it is often hard to know how to start a meditation practice. Below are a few tips which really helped me get going and I hope they will help you too. Before we get there, lets take a moment to look at what meditation actually is.
What Is Meditation?
Many people who are unfamiliar with meditation may think of it as a way of stopping all thoughts and clearing your mind. It is not, although with practice, you can certainly get to this state.
It is more about not letting your thoughts consume you for a little while. Instead they become things that we simply observe from a distance, like clouds rolling past in the sky.
Meditation is simply an observation and connection to the breath. Focussing on the breath enables us to quieten the mind and develop a deeper connection with ourselves.
We can watch the breath is different ways. Below are a few examples to help get you started:
- Count your breaths up to 10 and then count backwards to 0. Repeat for the duration of your meditation time.
- Try a mantra. One simple one is to repeat So Hum. This is a traditional Sanskrit phrase which means “I am that” and it symbolises our energetic connection to the universe and how it offers us support, safety and protection if we trust in it. It is a perfect mantra for meditation. You can of course use other affimations or statements such as “I am at peace”. Anything works really; as long as it resonates with you in the moment, you cannot go wrong.
- Use an object as a form of focus. This can be a candle, a photograph or a picture.
‘Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there, buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.’ Deepak Chopra
How To Start a Meditation Practice.
If you are a beginner, it can be a bit off putting when you hear that you should do 20 minutes of meditation practice a day for it to be worthwhile. This is not true and you are just setting yourself up for failure. YOUR meditation practice can be as long or short as you like. If 2 minutes is all you can do? That is absolutely fine. A regular practice is more important than how short or long your practice is.
The beauty of beginning a meditation practice, is that there is simply no right or wrong way of going about it. When I started mine, I just saw it as a time to just sit with myself and get to know and understand me a little better. I found it really interesting to just be open to what came up. Sometimes I would journal about it afterwards – just jot down thoughts and feelings that arose.
Take it slow, do not expect too much and remember that just like your physical yoga practice, it is life-long venture.
5 Beginner Tips In Starting A Meditation Practice
1) Try Meditation First Thing In The Morning (Before You Get Up)
I know, you might not like this one. Even as I write this I know it would not really go down well with me personally. However, if you are a natural early bird, this would work well for you. All you need to do is simply just get up a little earlier (depending on how long you want to spend in meditation). Once up, prop up your pillows so you can get into a comfortable seated position, set a timer for your meditation and then simply start. Sometimes it can also be useful to journal (as mentioned above) what comes up afterwards. This can really help set you up for the day.
2) Try Meditation Before You Go To Bed
If the mornings are not going to work for you, there are many benefits to meditating just before you go to bed. It has been proven that practising just before sleep can help calm the mind and help you nod of, and is great if your mind has a habit of bringing up every problem or situation imaginable, just before you switch off the light! Again, like meditating in the morning, it may help to journal afterwards, so whatever comes up gets out of your head and down onto paper. You should find nodding off comes more easily after this.
3) Take a Meditation Walk or run
This is actually my favourite way of meditating and is great for beginners – somehow the rhythm of one foot moving in front of the other, plus being outside in nature, is particularly soothing and calming. I simply focus on my breath, linking it the the rhythm of my steps and I am away. I guess you can compare it in the same way to when people say that they often go out for a walk or run to try and work through a problem in their head. If you love being outside please do give this one a try.
4) Try A Movement Meditation flow (a beautiful way of meditating on the mat for beginners).
You will need your yoga mat for this one. There is absolutely no reason as to why you cannot meditate whilst moving through a simple flowing yoga sequence. For this to work well though, you really need to let yourself be the master of your own ship. Try to avoid following a class or a sequence on YouTube. Instead, create a movement sequence yourself so that you can connect deeply to your inner self.
Not sure where to start?
Just repeat your favourite sun salutation for your meditation time. Simple as that. If you want more ideas, I have created a short flow (see below). Watch the video through and then see if you can learn the moves off by heart or use it as inspiration for your own sequence. Then, hop onto your mat and let your breath guide you – simple as that. You can also, of course follow me, that is absolutely fine :).
5) Take small Meditation breaks during the day
No time for any of the above? No big deal. Taking small mindfulness (meditation) breaks during the day are also great for beginners. For example, you could:
- Set a timer for 5 minutes and repeat a simple affirmation or mantra to yourself (I am at ease or I feel peace – whatever feels appropriate at the time).
- Play your favourite song and really listen to the lyrics.
- Make a brew and focus on every detail of the process inviting your senses to join in
- If you are eating a meal on your own, avoid eating with distractions (i.e. the tv or a book), really focus on what you are eating and how it is making your feel.
I hope that you find my tips on beginning a meditation practice helpful and will give all or some a go.
If you are someone who is already meditating if you have any other tips on helping those who want to start a home meditation practice, please do leave a comment.
Remember meditation isn’t always easy or even peaceful but it has truly amazing benefits, and you can start today, however small. The key is establishing a practice which fits in with your schedule and routine. When you find it stick with it and in a few weeks or months, you will wonder how you managed without it.