Once your well into the ride of life, you take time to sit back and think about all the lessons you have learnt. The arrogance of being young help you reject some advice from elders and wiser folks. But I think about how much more richer life could be for others (and myself) if they learnt these lessons much earlier in life. One of these lessons is taking the time to stop and sit (meditate).
I think if meditation was a part of the curriculum in most schools today, we surely would have an improved the quality of life for many who could better handle life’s stresses, reduce illness and improve overall performance. Something that’s free, can be low time consuming and provide what seems subtle but overall massive difference to life’s journey.
It feels good. Kinda like when you have to shut your computer down, just sometimes when it goes crazy, you just shut it down and when you turn it on, it’s okay again. That’s what meditation is to me. – Ellen DeGeneres
Getting started can be difficult without guidance or a mentor. So many different techniques, so much information on the web. What will work for you? Here are some tips to get you going.
Tip 1 – Take Action not to take action
The first step is to take action and start. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to feel right. The act of sitting quietly for a short and set amount of time is a good starting point. Forget about technique and just sit quietly for 5 minutes.
Sit anyway you like in a place with no or little distraction. Turn off the phone, iPad, computer. Don’t eat, smoke or drink. Just sit there with your thoughts for 5 minutes.
You don’t have to be in the woods perched on a rock. It can be anywhere.
If you are of the anxious or fidgety type and can’t handle sitting for 5 minutes, just start with 2 minutes.
Tip 2 – Reduce distraction
Reduce external distraction as much as possible. Move to a place where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes to reduce visual distraction and plug up your ears with some meditation sounds or guided meditation.
Overtime, you will be able to meditate and external factors will be less of a distraction. First you need to settle the mind before you can accept external distraction without judgement.
If time is your distraction and you’re worried about siting too long or not long enough, set a timer on your phone or download this free meditation timer app.
Tip 3 – Make Breath your focus point
It doesn’t matter where you are or what distractions there are, you always have your breath. Use your breath as the mantra in a way.
Pay attention to your breath and feel the sensation on your upper lip as the breath enters your body. Then feel the sensation again as it leaves your body. You can feel the air run down your throat and how it makes your body move.
If you’re not comfortable with the sensation of breath, you can count your breath. Count each breath up to 10 and then start again.
Tip 4 – Don’t worry about having an empty mind
You can’t stop thoughts, that would be impossible. This whole thing about emptying the mind of thoughts is total BS. You must accept all thoughts that enter your mind but gently let them go and return to your meditations focus or breath, mantra or body sensation. It’s important not to get upset with yourself if you’re having internal dialogue. Just gently let it go and return to the meditation.
Tip 5 – Beware of your posture
Its not so important when you get started the first few times, but once you start a regular practice, you want to be aware of your posture. Weather you’re in the lotus position, kneeling or sitting on a chair, try to picture an imaginary string connecting to the back/top of your head, pulling you up and keeping your head, neck and back straight. Having this posture will keep you more focused, alert and having you not fall asleep in relaxation mode.
This posture may be uncomfortable at first, especially if you naturally have a bad posture when you sit, as I did. An amazing thing happened when I became aware of my posture when meditating is that I became aware of my posture all the time. I use to slouch all the time at my desk and over time have improved my sitting and standing posture.
Tip 6 – Be consistent
What I’ve found over time, it’s not so important how long you meditate, but how often and consistently you do it. Example is, you are better to sit for 10 minutes everyday that 60 minutes once a week. Consistency is key which will induce a quicker time to settle into your meditation and make it feel a part of everyday life.
Tip 7- Reflect after your done
I love the fact that I can calm my mind through the act of meditation, but during this quiet time I often have moment of insight and clarity. Unintentionally, I have solved a problem or came up with an idea for a project. It may have set this intention subconsciously but silence or as I like to say spending some close time with myself sometime pushes through creativity.
When your meditation is complete, sit back, feel relaxed and reflect. I sometimes get the note book out and journal about my insight.