The popularity of meditation in the West has been steadily increasing for quite a while. Most of us live fast-paced lives and can often find it tough to relax, unwind and destress. Furthermore, with a sharp increase in digital technology along with an increase in daily demands, often many people find it increasingly difficult to remain present and even keep their sanity.
Meditation offers us a way in which we may take time out from our busy lives and enable us to calm down and once again find our center. Besides this, there are also a whole host of additional benefits of a meditation practice that a person can benefit from.
Here are some tips and techniques for beginners looking to incorporate meditation into their daily lives.
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Meditation Tips and Techniques for Beginners
Find a Quiet Place
An important starting point for beginning a meditation session is to find a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed. Ideally, when you are first beginning a meditation practice and learning the techniques, it will be easier if you can practice in a quite place. As your meditation skills progress over time then you will also be able to meditate in places that are not so quiet. In fact, there are a few specific meditation exercises that require a variety of external noises occurring around you. However, these techniques are for more experienced meditators.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be sitting cross-legged on the floor in order to meditate. You can sit anywhere – in a chair, on the floor, or you can even be lying down. As long as you’re comfortable and stable, you’re ready to meditate. However, bear in mind that if you are not used to meditating then, it is advisable to remain sitting upright as it can be very easy to fall asleep if one is in a laying down position, which will defeat the object of the meditation exercise.
Focus On Your Breathing
A great place to start is by allowing your awareness to focus on your breathing.
Begin by taking a long and slow inhalation through the nose and then allow the breath to leave naturally through the nose as you exhale. Don’t try to force or hold the breath, but instead just observe the simple inhalation and exhalation and allow the breath to become slightly longer each time to a point which is comfortable for you.
Be mindful of breathing deeply into your belly rather than shallowly in the chest. As you draw your attention to your breath, allow your mind to settle as you feel yourself calming down.
When you start practising, it is natural for your mind to start wandering. This is natural and nothing to worry about. The objective at this stage is not to try to stop the mind activity, but just to use the breath as the focal point of your attention and allow yourself to relax into it.
If your mind chooses to wander then, just allow it to come back to the breath. Don’t be hard on yourself if you do find your mind constantly wondering, just acknowledge that it has wondered again and bring your awareness back to the breath.
Find Your Rhythm
As you breathe in and out, allow yourself to find a comfortable rhythm. Start off by counting your breaths five or ten times to get into a nice pattern. Long, slow breaths each time and finding your tempo. You may even find that there is a natural gap or pause occurring between each breath.
When meditating, one of the primary goals is to become present and mindful to the moment. This can be done in several ways; one of which is by focusing on your breathing as described above.
Another practice is to pay attention or “tune in” to your physical body and allowing it to relax. Start by placing your awareness at the top of your head as you allow your scalp to relax completely. Then, move down to your facial muscles, neck and shoulders, back, chest, torso, waist, legs and feet, making sure to take a moment at each body part as you allow it to relax before moving on.
From here, you may then wish to become mindful of your surroundings as you tune into any sounds and sensations that you may be perceiving in your environment. Focus on what you hear, how it feels where you are sitting and any tension in your body.
We have more information that you can read on mindfulness practice here.
Do Meditation in Short Chunks
Take a few minutes out of each day to practice meditation. At first, just do it for a short time – set a timer and count your breaths. Aiming for around 10 minutes at a time is comfortable for most beginners. Set an alarm, and just relax.
Practising every day is important. With consistency, you will find that your meditation becomes much easier and a wholly pleasurable and enjoyable experience. Soon you will be able to just switch off and fall into comfortable meditation quite quickly.
You can also start to use this in your day to day life. When something stresses you out, just stop, focus on your breathing for a moment or two and relax into your meditation.
Meditation can take a long time to master, and there are many different techniques to try. The important thing to remember is that meditation should not stress you out or become a chore. Don’t worry about making meditation work. Don’t worry if something that the experts say doesn’t quite fit for you. Meditation is an individual thing, and if you can find something that brings you inner peace, that’s all you need for a great and beneficial practice.
Most people will tell you to meditate seated, with your palms facing up and a neutral posture. This is a common idea in Zen meditation, and it’s certainly a good starting point. If you can’t sit like that because of injuries, or simply because it’s not comfortable, that’s OK. As long as you are comfortable and can breathe well, that is the most important thing.
Some people like to meditate after activities such as yoga, when their muscles are relaxed, and they are comfortable, loose, and warm. In this case, you can meditate in the ‘corpse pose’, lying flat – again with your palms facing up. Focus on releasing the tension from your body.
Some people find that meditating is easier with their eyes closed. For others, focusing on an object helps – whether the object is a candle, a photograph, or a small item that reminds them of something positive. Others meditate on an idea or a mantra or focus on visualizing something specific. The longer you practice, the easier it gets to maintain your focus on whatever object you are meditating on.
Remember that the most important thing is that the meditation makes you feel better, helps you to relax and brings you into the present moment. For those few minutes each day, you should have a clear head and feel refreshed. A few minutes in your lunch break could recharge your mental batteries so that you can face the rest of the day at work.
Anyone can meditate. You don’t have to become a Zen master, and you don’t need to subscribe to any particular belief system. Just try it, and see if it helps you.