The benefits of meditation are being touted all over the internet and wellness communities but the idea of sitting alone with your thoughts can be intimidating. Hearing long time meditators talk about meditating for an hour or more a day seems impossible. Here are a few things that you can do to get started.
One of the most common approaches to starting meditation is to use an app like Headspace or Calm. These are subscription based services that offer music, guided meditation, videos, or exercises to get into meditation. If you’re on a budget, a free app like Insight Timer may be the way to go. It also has music and guided meditations. Insight Timer also has a timer for a DIY approach and courses from instructors. YouTube also has a lot of free guided meditations.
This is another option to dip your toe into the meditation pool. Mindfulness often focuses on “being present in the moment.” That can be hard to do, especially these days with social media, a 24/7 news cycle, and life coming at us constantly. How can we be present when there are 17 more things on the “to do” list?
One way to do this is to sit still for a minute. Listen to the sounds around you. What do you hear? What are you feeling right now? What do you physically feel? Is it hot, cold, just right? Are you breathing? (I sure hope so!) Is it fast or slow? Can you focus on just taking a deep breath and the sensations that come with it? These short bouts of “being present” help you to detach from the hectic life around you and slow down. It is also a good way to start understanding how often our “should do” and “need to do” thoughts can distract us from what is going on around us.
Another option is to doing something simple. Drink a cup of coffee, color in an adult coloring book, listen to your favorite song. These approaches let you focus on just one thing at a time which starts you on the path to meditating.
There are probably tons of different approaches to this but what I am going to discuss is simply being silent and being comfortable with what comes with that. This is the scariest one. I have been meditating daily for a year, using mostly guided meditations or sounds to help me. Recently, I’ve started morning meditation in silence; ten minutes a day is my goal.
I use a timer for this approach. I started initially with just two or three minutes, slowly moving my way up to five minutes. The important thing to learn with this is that your mind is not going to be completely silent and still when you start. Even if you’ve been meditating for a long time, there will still be days where your mind is going a thousand miles a minute.
The most important thing to know is that this is NORMAL. The next thing to know is that when this happens, recognize that it is happening and to go back to what helps you be still. Personally, I do this by focusing on my breathing, in and out… in and out. Some people use a candle or something similar for a visual point of focus.
Meditation is a skill that takes time to develop and requires practice. All good things take time and the benefits that come from this are worth the time you will put into it.