Many people already know the benefits of meditation, but some are confused about what a daily practice should look like. We think our meditation isn’t worthy enough because it doesn’t look a certain way. Meditation is simply about quieting our mind so that we can connect with our inner self, and doesn’t have to be on a pillow with singing bowls and chanting in the background. Meditation can meet you where you are, in the few minutes you have while your kids nap. And that practice is still 100% perfect the way it is.
The #1 meditation deterrent for beginners is their active minds. Our minds are constantly bringing up thoughts, going a mile a minute, and we seemingly have no control over those thoughts. For many people that active mind is what stops them from having a meditation practice. Despite what people say, it’s important to point out that you don’t have to have a silent mind to meditate.
Ok, some people will want to jump in here and say isn’t that the whole point of meditation? Yes! Yes that is our long-term goal to gain inner peace away from our thoughts, live awakened and enlightened. But right now? No, right now our goal is to start a practice and begin working towards a silent mind.
It may take you a year before you can sit in silence, it could take you a month, it could happen naturally on your first try, it could take what feels like forever. Everyone is different and your journey will not look anything like what my journey looks like. So we have to know in advance what to expect so we don’t feel defeated when those thoughts are still popping up in 3 months. The most important thing is that when those thoughts come up you focus back to the stillness of your meditation. You can watch those thoughts come up, but don’t attach yourself to those thoughts. Let them pass like clouds in the sky.
For beginners the easiest way to combat those thoughts is to choose a guided meditation that you can follow, or simply staying focused on your breath. Guided meditations and om chanting allows you to stay focused on what is being said, whether that is a mantra or vibration sound. If your mind wanders, I find it so much easier to get you back on track when you are being guided. You don’t have to purchase meditations, you can find everything you need on youtube. Just try to pick a guided meditation or chanting that doesn’t have commercials. Some people try to sneak those in to make money and you can really lose focus!
Staying focused on your breath is also a simple meditation where if you get off track you can come right back. Sitting silently you will focus on the inhale and the exhale of the breath. The expansion of your chest and abdomen. The cool air coming into your body. Then as you exhale feel the air leaving you and the warm air exiting your body.
Remember that your meditation can take place anytime, anywhere. It does not matter if you sit or lay down. I usually sit in a comfortable reclining chair or choose to lay on my back because sitting without support is uncomfortable for me. Others may want to sit on a pillow or meditation while walking. All options are good options. All you need is to be in a position where you are comfortable.
If you have no experience with meditation, start out with 5 minutes a day. Close your eyes, focus on your breath and do some pranic breathing. Breath in for 5 seconds. Hold for 5. Breath out for 5. Hold for 5. Repeat. If holding for 5 seconds becomes uncomfortable, switch to holding for 3 seconds. Maybe try 6-3-6-3 or 3-3-3-3. The time does not matter really as long as you are focusing on the feeling of your inhale and exhale.
I have found a lot of people claiming that first thing in the morning is usually the best time to meditate. It kicks off your day in the right mindset and you were recently sleeping so you are at your most relaxed. Over time you will find that meditating any time of day is just fine. Sometimes I have so much going on I have to find time during the day in between my work and kids activities or before bed to meditate. That’s ok. As long as we find the time for meditation that is all that matters.
Overall the most important part of a meditation practice is showing up. We can be so consumed and worried with doing things wrong, when in reality the only thing that matters is doing it. At this point in my life one of my favorite places to meditate is while I wait for my kids in gymnastics. A huge building full of people talking to each other and on phones, moving around. Absolutely the opposite of what you think would make a good space for meditation. And yet meditating there gives me a profound sense of peace and quiet and alone time.
My last piece of advice for meditation is that once you take time to relax and be still, this is a perfect moment for you to quickly review what you are grateful for in your life. Send out gratitude from your heart for all your blessings. At this still place we are connected to our higher self, and by expressing gratitude we can help to manifest more things in life to be grateful for. Your job does not have to be perfect or pay you as well as you would want it to in order to be thankful that you have one. Your family may drive you crazy, but if you have one you are supremely lucky. Be thankful for nature, thankful for the season, thankful for your existence.