How to Start a Meditation Practice
Learning how to meditate is a great way for you to take care of your mental and physical health. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years as a way to improve one's mental clarity, emotional stability, and overall sense of well-being. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips on how you can start a meditation practice today!
What is meditation?
The term "meditation" can be defined as a mental exercise of concentration, contemplation, or reflection on a given thing, typically with the aim of achieving an altered state of consciousness. Meditation is one way of coping with triggers associated with stress and anxiety.
How to start a meditation practice
While starting a meditation practice may feel challenging, here are some tips to guide you to start on your own:
- Choose the right time and place for you to meditate, whether it's first thing in the morning or in the afternoon. It can be helpful to take about ten minutes during this time of day alone to yourself, so that you can get in the proper mindset to meditate.
- Choose a quiet place to sit or lie down comfortably. Many people like to use their bedroom for this because it is very calming and serene, especially if there are no distractions such as television or email notifications. I think it is important to create a dedicated place separate from your bedroom if possible but this will depend on your home and who you live with.
- Finding a comfortable position is essential. You may wish to sit up straight with your back against the wall (you may want to use a pillow or cushion for extra support), or crossed legged on a meditation cushion. If it suits you better, you may prefer to just sit in a chair.
- Close your eyes and start to take deep breaths. Notice the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe in, allowing yourself to sink down into the floor with each exhale.
- Focus on the breath as it enters and leaves the body. You may notice that thoughts pop into your mind without you even realizing it, don't worry about those thoughts! Just observe them and let them go. When we first start meditating our minds tend to be more agitated than usual, so this is normal for beginners.
- Continue breathing deeply, focusing on the breath. You can repeat a mantra to help you stay focused and bring your attention back to the present moment whenever it wanders off (such as "I am breathing in" or "Sitting here").
Benefits of meditation
A regular meditation practice will provide you with a multitude of mental and physical health benefits, such as:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Increasing your ability to cope in stressful situations
- Improving focus and attention span at work or school
- Helping treat addictions by changing the way we react to certain triggers
- Improved memory and concentration
- Reduced blood pressure
- Increased self awareness
- Better relationships
- Increased feeling of happiness and peace of mind
- Improves ability to sleep well at night.
The importance of intention in your practice
The intention you carry with you every time you meditate is very important. It may feel a little silly at first, but if that thought helps keep your mind clear and focused then it can be helpful to repeat one or two words in your head as a reminder of what this practice means for you. Some examples of a good intention to keep in mind are:
- Staying present with a focus on the here and now
- Treating my body as a temple that deserves respect for all it provides me with every day
- I will be kind to myself, remembering not to judge whatever thoughts come up without harshly judging them first.
- I will do this for myself, because it is important to me.
Tips for staying consistent with your practice
It can be a challenge to make meditation a daily habit but there are several things you can try out if you want to stay committed:
- Set an alarm on your phone or computer as a reminder every day at the same time, even if it's just for a few minutes. You can also use an app to help guide your meditation practice such as Headspace. I highly recommend this app.
- Try meditating in the same place every day so that you become familiar with being there and feel comfortable going back when you need some peace. Also, regularity will make it easier over time because your body will become accustomed to meditating.
- Tell your friends about what you are doing and ask them if they would be interested in joining or trying it out too! You can help each other stay motivated by sharing how much of a difference meditation has made for both of you.
- You can also try meditating for longer periods of time every day by starting off with just a couple minutes. The more you practice, the easier it will become to clear your mind and stay focused on the present moment without distraction.
If you are new to meditation it can be a little difficult at first, but with regular practice and patience over time the results will truly speak for themselves. Meditation is an amazing way of improving your mental health, bringing more clarity into your life, becoming more present in each moment and most importantly finding yourself again!