Are you thinking about meditating? Get ready, because I am going to share with you all you need to know to get started.
I meditate daily. And you might ask yourself, why is she doing that? Well, when I was a child my grandfather used to constantly repeat to me that
“When things get difficult, the difference between the people that succeeds and the people that don’t reside in a clear and non-reactive mind”.
I am a passionate person, which isn’t bad in itself, although I tend to overreact. The problem with overreacting is that I forget to see things as they are because I tint them with my own assumptions. Meditation helps me detach from my assumptions and gives me a fresh perspective on things, almost effortlessly.
So, what is meditation?
There are many ways to define meditation. Every practice or school seems to have their own way of describing it. However, in simple terms, meditation is a technique to train attention and awareness to strike balance both mentally and emotionally.
As I am no exception, I also have my own way of seeing meditation. For me, meditation is a tool to achieve mental clarity. The most powerful way to stop negative momentum. Have you ever experience a wave of negative thinking? A small negative thing happens, you start focusing on it, expanding it and suddenly everything looks dark. The negative thinking got momentum and suddenly it is almost impossible to stop. That is how relatively small things like negative feedback can develop into a full-blown depression. Meditation can be used as a hard break for the downward spiral. As I always say:
“if you can’t think anything positive, think nothing at all”
Which are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation has many benefits both physical and mental. Although I appreciate the mental one more, lots of studies show that there are also lots of physical benefits.
- Improves blood circulation – It reduces the heart rate and contributes to a healthy heart
- Improves brain functions – most mindful practices like meditation according to a study carried out at the University of Wisconsin-Madison improve brain functions and as a side effect, you even get a better immune system.
- Stress reduction – Stress is one of the biggest triggers for diseases. Meditation helps control stress and anxiety in the body.
- Enhances self-awareness – meditation is a great tool to observe yourself, to understand who you are and what you desire. It helps you to break free from your own self-imposed limitations.
- Increases attention spam – Meditation requires focus. Practising focus and being present is not only reserved to the meditation itself but it expands to other areas of your life.
- Improves sleep – research showed that insomnia patients show significant improvement in the length and quality of sleep after implementing meditation to their lives. And the effects were long-lasting.
And those are just some of the benefits. The list goes on and on.
What do you need to start with meditation?
Regardless of how many fancy things people associate with the practice of meditation, the reality is that the only thing you need is just a bit of time. The positions, outfits and other props are added bonus, but really not necessary. Not even the quiet place is required, although beneficial at least at the beginning, it’s not a must. I’ve meditated in airports, crowed parks and many other bizarre places. My conclusion? What you want to quiet is your mind, not your environment. Simply make some time for you.
How do you get started?
In the beginning, I recommend that you simplify as much as possible. Meditation is a practice the more you try it the better you get at it. So, let’s start with the basic:
- Set aside some time – as you progress you can increase the time, now I can meditate for hours at the time but at the beginning, 10 to 15 minutes should suffice.
- Sit in a comfortable position – you might have seen many people crossing their legs, or meditating on small puffs. This is all well and good, but what you really want is to be comfortable enough so you do not have to change positions. Whatever makes you feel comfortable to feel relaxed is good enough.
- Close your eyes – you intend to go within, so closing your eyes will help you to let go of what is happening around you and focus on yourself.
- Focus on your breathing – Breathing is normally a function of your subconscious mind, you normally do not pay much attention to your breathing. Do not try and force your breath, just observe it. Breathing is monotonous and constant. The idea is to concentrate all your attention in the rhythmic sound of your breathing.
Bonus tip – although you shouldn’t force your breathing, it is advisable that you breathe all the way to your belly instead of breathing from your chest. When you breathe from your chest you are sending the message to your body that you are under stress, not in a relaxed state.
- Let your thoughts pass you by – Your conscious mind is used to be in control. Thoughts will appear, observe them but let them go. Keep at it until the constant chatter of your own thoughts disappears. It might be only for a couple of seconds in the beginning, doesn’t matter, with practice the times of quietness will increase.
As you can see, the technique is very simple. Simple but not always easy. At the beginning of my meditation practice, I wasn’t able to sit quietly for more than a minute, so I needed to get creative.
Alternatives to silent meditation for beginners.
If you are unable to quiet your mind with silent meditation, do not despair. I wasn’t able to do it at the beginning either. In fact, I was about to quit when one of my friends suggested guided meditations.
I personally started with Deepak Chopra and his 21 days meditation challenge. the name of mine was “perfect health”. On the internet, you can find lots of those guides meditation.
There are also meditation apps like Synctuition, Calm or Headspace. I have used them too. Actually I am a big fan of Snyctuition. I love the sounds that play on my head.
Another great resource is the visualization meditations. Those are designed to stimulate your imagination and help visualize your goals. Some of them also follow the manifestation principles like the ones from Jess Sheppard.
Meditation is easy, requires just a little of your time and no equipment. It can be practice everywhere and brings immense benefits to your life.
Taking care of you and your wellbeing helps the people around you. I would say that 15 minutes of meditation is the lazy way to make everybody in your life happy, including yourself.
If you want to see it, you can check out this video: