Ever considered getting into meditation? Maybe the idea occurred to you one day as your mind was wandering onto the topic of health and wellness… Mind meandering happens to all of us, even the most experienced of meditators. The challenge — the goal of meditation — is finding ways to refocus. During stressful times (kind of like the ones we’re living through now) refocusing can help us to be more productive, have less stress in our lives, and be happier overall. Sounds like a win-win, right? Here’s a rundown on how to get started, without spending a fortune… because inner peace is one of those things that should never have a price tag on it.
Knowing that your mind will jump around like an energetic little puppy that has just discovered bacon is half the battle. The next challenge is to not beat yourself up for witnessing what your mind wants to do. So rather than think, “Ugh. I can’t do this. I am not cut out for this,” channel your inner best friend/mama/pet mama voice, be kind and try not to judge yourself. Think of your mind like a little helpless lost puppy or kitty that just needs to find its way back home.
For beginners, meditating may evoke images of incense, contorted positions, fancy pillows and chanting… Sure, you could set a “meditation accouterments” budget, and fashion yourself a little Zen den with these items, but the only thing you really need to meditate is your time and breath.
To start, set aside some time, ideally in a quiet spot. Notice your breath entering and exiting your body. It could be helpful to count your breaths (think counting up to four and starting over), or notice the feeling of your breath moving in and out through your nose, mouth, chest or belly. You could also note the thoughts, feelings or sensations that come up when you focus on each breath in, and each breath out.
TAKE 5…THEN 10, 15, 20
Like any new habit, the key to starting and sticking with meditation is to start small, keep it realistic for your lifestyle and your budget and understand what motivates you. Start with five minutes a day. You could even do it in bed lying down. Before you emerge from your comfy covers (or drag yourself out like a hung over sloth) just lie in bed and focus on your breath, or try it at night right before dozing off. If five minutes sounds too daunting, two minutes will do just fine. Once five minutes feels easier, just add another five minutes at a time. If one lump meditation sum is too much, start by trying to find short five minute breaks at the beginning, middle and end of your day.
FREE OR AFFORDABLE RESOURCES
Sustaining a meditation practice is easier when you have support. Below are just a few free or affordable services that can help meditation newbies or experienced meditators.
Craving community? Try Mindful Leader-Meditate Together. The organization offers free, live, online daily group meditation and support, 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, on the hour, every week day. The Zoom sessions are led by volunteers who facilitate a 15 minute unguided meditation followed by a voluntary sharing period.
Learn from guru Sharon Salzberg. Salzberg is one of the best-known meditation teachers in the world, and is co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society. Visit her online store for free meditations to learn from one of the best in the Zen biz. Her website also provides tons of other free resources including free meditation sessions from Insight Meditation and free guided meditations from Mindful.org.
Keep it simple with the UCLA Mindful App. This free app offers great meditations for beginners, a timer to meditate on your own, podcasts and informative videos all informed from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center.
Amazing animations with Headspace. If you’re unemployed, you can get a free year of Headspace Plus, just follow the steps in the app to apply. For everyone else, they offer a free two-week trial. After that, the charge is $69.99 for the full year, or $12.99 monthly. This app offers an educational, fun library of animations that make learning meditation fun and easy (and can be great for kids too). The app comes with meditations, themed courses, sleep sounds and bedtime exercise.
Skeptical? Try Ten Percent Happier. This lighter hearted service started by an admitted meditation skeptic, broadcast journalist Dan Harris, provides free COVID-19 resources and free access to their app for teachers, health care, grocery, and food delivery workers. Ten Percent also offers a “free live sanity break,” with some of the world’s best meditation teachers streaming live on YouTube and a free trial. After the trial it’s $99 for the year.
Whatever option works best for your life and your budget, just remember meditation teacher Sebene Selassie’s wise words, “Stress can be managed, but it takes time. It’s called practice for a reason. So I hope you keep practice meditating.”
Thank you to HerMoney, where this article originally ran here https://www.hermoney.com/enjoy/wellness/how-to-start-a-meditation-practice-without-spending-a-fortune/, for allowing Thrive Global to republish this piece.