When you think about meditation, what is the first thought that pops up? Boredom?
11-12 years ago, I thought learning how to meditate was useless.
Just a few of the benefits that you can expect are lowered blood pressure, stress relief, increased healing, improved mood and brain function, just to name a few.
Then we have my favorites, which are expanded awareness and a sense of connection to the world.
There is no one single way of meditating. Like with anything else, by all means immerse yourself in books, CDs and educational material, but remember that it is up to you to experiment and find what works.
I’ve never thought meditation was easy. Your mind wanders. Your body itches. You want to do something else.
However, it is such a powerful method of improving almost every aspect of your life that it cannot be neglected.
Even 10-15 minutes a day can do wonders. Learning how to meditate is easy. It’s the trusting yourself part that is hard. You already know how to do this, so this article is just a reminder.
How to Meditate in 5 Simple Steps
1. Eliminate Distractions. The first thing you want to do is make sure that no one is going to bother you. I’m not going to go into specific strategies, because if you’re serious about improving your life, you will have no trouble finding ways to get a few minutes of silence. Remember, even 5 minutes of meditation is beneficial.
2. Determine Time. I like to determine how long I will meditate before I begin, otherwise it’s easy to give up when it gets tough. I recommend you start with something small. Anything between 5-15 minutes is okay.
3. Relax. Stretching before you start will help you relax and be more comfortable while you are meditating. Your body will object to meditation – at least mine does, because I do not like to sit still – so the more you relax, the smoother everything will go.
4. Get Comfortable. Once you’ve relaxed your body, it’s time to find a place for you to sit or lie down. You do not have to be in a full lotus position. You can sit in whatever way you want, just make sure your spine is straight and you are comfortable. It’s not rocket-science ;).
5. Focus. Your mind will want to make this more complicated than it is, so be prepared for that. Once you’ve settled in, pick one thing to focus on, such as your breath, your muscles or even a candle. It doesn’t really matter what it is. Focusing on one thing is easy and an excellent place to start. I personally like to focus on my breath.
Extra Tips for Beginners
Let it be okay. Your mind will wander. When I first started it was pure chaos in my mind and the rebellion was in full force when I tried to be silent. Let it be okay and when your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the present moment.
Let thoughts pass. In the beginning, your thoughts will be all over the place and you will notice yourself getting swept away by them. This is normal. Bring your awareness back to what you were doing. Keep doing this over and over again. This is meditation.
Posture. Having a straight spine and good posture is important, especially when you’re sitting. It allows the energy in your body to flow. Don’t overextend yourself, just have a comfortable posture that you think is good enough.
Smile. Half-smiling while you are meditating can change what thoughts enter your mind. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, try it and see what happens. Many subtle changes to your physical body can dramatically alter your mood and thought-patterns.
Incremental Improvement. This is not a race. In meditation, you learn to enjoy the process, not the end result. There is nowhere to go and nowhere to be. Focus on incremental improvement. Maybe you can add one second each day to your meditation time. That is just one of many ways to progress.
Music. Sometimes listening to relaxing music can help in meditation. It is up to you to decide what you feel comfortable with. If you like meditating with music then by all means go ahead. This is supposed to be fun (at least somewhat :D).
Meditation CDs. If you’re having trouble meditating or just want guidance, there are always meditation CDs available. I personally like Holosync and have been using it for several years with good results.
Videos on Learning to Meditate
Here are a few videos I’ve created that will answer some questions on learning how to meditate, and calm your mind.
Learn How to Meditate in Less Than 90 Seconds
Do You Have to Quiet Your Mind When You Meditate?
Can You Meditate After Waking Up?
These answers are from my personal experience. I know many people will not agree with me, but this is what I have found to work for me. If you like it, use it.
Q: How often should I meditate?
A: As I said above, there are no rules. If you can only meditate once a day, that is fine. It is much more important to get into a routine. Start off with once a day and see how it feels. You can then expand to twice a day if it feels right.
Q: How long should I meditate?
A: You can meditate anywhere from 5 minutes to forever. Start with something that you feel comfortable with. There’s no use in forcing yourself to meditate hours on end if it is going to make you quit within a week.
Q: My mind wanders more than anyone else’s
A: We all think we’re special when it comes to the craziness in our heads. Realize that everyone has the same problems. All of our minds wander. Gently re-focus it on what you were doing and keep re-focusing whenever it wanders. This may happen every 5 seconds in the beginning and that’s okay, just do your best.
Q: What if I fall asleep?
A: If you’re lying down and fall asleep all the time, you might want to consider sitting instead, or lying down when you aren’t sleepy. If you’re falling asleep then you aren’t really meditating. Find a solution.
Q: My body hurts
A: If you’re sitting, your body will start to object and try to get you to move. This is another distraction. Be okay with it and accept it. Let it be there. It is a good opportunity to just observe what is. This includes your feelings about your body. As you progress, it will become easier and easier to let it be okay.
Q: How should I sit?
A: Sit in whatever way you like. Like I mentioned before, the most important thing is to have good posture. You can sit in a chair, on your bed, on the floor, the possibilities are unlimited.
Q: What meditation method is best?
A: There are an overwhelming amount of different alternatives out there. They all claim to be the best. I suggest you start with something simple, such as focusing on your breathing. Do that for a few months before you go on to anything else. There is no one best method.
Q: How should it feel?
A: Everyone has different feelings while they meditate. After a while you will start feeling content, peaceful and happy. In the beginning while your mind is in chaos, it can be overwhelming and frustrating, so just accept whatever comes your way.
Q: Should I close my eyes?
A: You can meditate with your eyes open or close. I prefer to meditate with my eyes closed, because I usually focus on my breath. If you want to focus on something external, then by all means keep your eyes open. In order to make meditation fun, you have to do what you feel is right. There’s no need to be rigid.