Meditation is a practice that is well known to help with improving the quality of sleep, raising levels of focus, attention and concentration, improving emotional health, fighting addictions among other numerous health benefits. And almost everyone will admit that these are benefits we would want to enjoy.
However, beginners in meditation tend to have a difficult time getting to make the practice work well for them. There is the confusion of not knowing where to start, how exactly do it, how much time to spend meditating, the things that are needed for the practice, how it is supposed to feel during a meditation session and what to expect, just to name a few.
And to be honest, meditation doesn’t really require a lot and it is not as hectic as it is perceived by newbies in the area. It is all about getting started as soon as now and slowly build up your knowledge and experience with every session, that is why it is actually called a practice. You have to do it many times so that you can get to enjoy its benefits right.
The main aim of meditation is train your mind to calm down and be aware and you get to do this by working your way up from the first session. Let’s take a look at the basic yet essential steps you need know to learn how to meditate.
Step 1: Choose Your Preferred Type of Meditation
There are a wide variety of meditation strategies out there and you need to choose which you want to be working with. Mainly, you narrow down to the strategy that best fits you based on what you want to get out of meditation.
For instance, mindfulness meditation raises your level of awareness and helps you be in the present moment. The loving kindness meditation aims at making you kinder and more compassionate. Focused attention meditation, on the other hand, sharpens your focus.
So you want to list down the goals and benefits you wish to get out of the practice, and then settle for the meditation type that offers them.
Also, you can test out some that you feel offer what you want and see which ones make the best fit. Give each of them a try for at least a week or two and see how it works out for you. After that, proceed to the next one.
Once you have tried them all out, you should be able to settle down for one. Invest your mind and heart to that. However, remember that there are often doubts that may interfere with your experience. Try to see the doubts as normal patterns of thoughts and let them go so that you are able to have the full experience of the practice.
Step #2 – Choose Your Preferred Time For Meditation
We all have different times of the day when we get time for ourselves. Some have some free time early in the morning, others in the late mornings, afternoons, late afternoons, early evenings, after work or even before going to sleep.
You should take advantage of your free time to meditate if you have a busy schedule. It even helps you relax and gain more energy for the other tasks of the day.
It is important that you assess yourself well and identify the time that is suitable for you to meditate based on your schedule and how you know you respond to practices like this one.
Step #3 – Add Meditation to Your Schedule
Once you have your time right, you now need to add it to your daily schedule. This will be the time you will be committing to meditate every day.
Meditation should be a daily routine for you if you are to see the benefits of it soon. Studies have revealed that frequency and quality of meditation is what matters the most.
So sliding it into your schedule will help you be more committed to and do it frequently. It will also help you take it more seriously and not just see it as a luxury, when you have a very busy day.
On to the Practice
Step #4 – Start by Meditating For a Few Minutes
Meditation can be really discouraging especially when you are starting out. That is why it is good to kick it off by meditating for a few minutes day, ideally less 5 minutes, and slowly increase the time as you make progress.
Sitting still and trying to quiet the mind can be really daunting tasks for someone who has never done them before. And as with anything new, you want to learn how to do it first before you invest more time into doing it.
Meditating for 5 minutes is a good starting point. However, you can also do it for less than that. Feel free to do it for a minute or two as well, based on what you feel is good for you.
It is also encouraged, if you can, to go for guided meditation for your selected type, as you begin, and then do it yourself when you have mastered how it should be done from start to the end.
After that, you can choose to keep using it or do it on your own.
As you go to meditate, you should find a place that is quiet and free of disturbance, where you will be meditating. You also need to time yourself for the session so that you are able to focus completely and not keep on checking the time which will interrupt your session.
If you decide to work with a meditation style that allows you to sit, these are the things you should remember:
* It is better to start off by meditating on a regular chair that you already have. After that, you can go for a meditation cushion or a meditation bench. Starting with a chair that you are used to helps keep you comfortable and makes for valuable first few sessions.
However, it is important to consider a cushion or a bench dome the road as they come with extra benefits.
* A meditation cushion helps you maintain an upright position as you meditate, which is essential, and increases the quality of your meditation as well as alertness.
* A meditation bench also helps when you’re feeling uncomfortable using the cushion or the chair. It takes in a lot of weight that would have gone to your legs.
Ignore this, if you are using a walking meditation, or such, that doesn’t really need to you to sit.
If you choose a guided meditation, you will not need a timer. However, if you are doing it without help, you will want to have a timer with you to help keep good track of time so that you don’t do it for a longer or shorter time or have to keep checking your phone to see if the time is up, which can be really distracting.
The inbuilt timer on your mobile device is okay but when you want a better timer with other features that help with meditation, meditations app like Insight Timer can be a good choice.
Step #5 – Focus on An Object & Reduce Wandering Thoughts
For the 5 minutes or less, you want to first focus on your breathing or any object that your preffered style of meditation recommends.
There are strategies that tell you to focus on your breathing, a mantra or a candle or such. Your initial goal is put all your focus on the object without your thoughts getting in the way.
It is difficult at first and your mind will often wander but with consistently doing it, you will slowly become more focused.
Step #6 – Be Patient With Your Wandering Mind
As you step foot into meditation, you are going to be faced by a number of challenges. At times, you will fall asleep during your sessions, or feel over stimulated. On top of that, your mind will wander more than you would imagine. And all these are common occurrences so don’t feel discouraged when they happen.
Almost all beginners go through them so don’t be too hard on yourself. As you meditate more often, the difficulties will reduce.
It is also good to take time and learn more about the type of meditation you have settled for. You can watch videos, read books, get involved in online groups and talk to other people who are well versed on the area. It builds your knowledge of it and helps you perform even better.
Meditation is all about learning and improving your mind by training it to calm down and focus. It can be a little intimidating at first but with constant practice, you will slowly get to have an influence on it that will help you get to experience the benefits this practice offers.
It is more like a journey to a destination using a path you don’t know about. You should be open-minded, willing to learn and make mistakes often. But your ability to improve upon your weaknesses will help you become a better person.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) on Meditation
Question #1 – How should breathe when I am meditating?
Well, you should do it as you normally do when you are not meditating, nothing different. Just go with the flow.
Question #2 – Should I keep my eyes open or closed during meditation?
It depends on you and they type of meditation you are working with, but it is ultimately up to you. If you fall asleep when you close your eyes, then do it with your eyes open, but maintain a low gaze. If you get distracted when your eyes are open, you can try having your eyes closed. Mainly stick with what you know is helping you gain more value from the practice.
Question #3 – Should I meditate alone or with a group?
Whichever makes you feel good since each has its own benefits. When you meditate alone, you are able to strengthen your self-discipline and when you meditate as a group, you feel supported in many ways.
Question #4 – How should my hands be when I meditate?
If the type of meditation you have decided to go with recommends a certain way to put your hands, follow that. But if not, just rest them where you feel most convenient for you. There are people who touch their thumb and their index finger, there are those who place them on their lap, and there those who lock their hands together.
Question #5 – How should my legs be?
It is not always a requirement to sit in the lotus position as it is depicted in the images that represent Buddha. You can have your legs be as you wish. If there is a way illustrated in the meditation style you choose to go for, go with that. If not, just make yourself comfortable but then not too comfortable.
Question #6 – What if I feel a sensation in my body?
If you feel a tingle or an itch, try to react mentally before you react physically. This means that if you feel itchy or want to reduce the tingling sensation, try to do it in your mind first before you reach your hands out to the part of the body.
Question #7 – How should I keep my back?
Keeping an upright posture is important because it not only keeps you alert, but also improve your concentration on the sessions.
Question #8 – How should my environment be?
It can be anywhere as far as you pick a place that you know is quiet and you won’t be disturbed throughout the session by other people or pets.
Question #9 – Is meditation really for me?
Meditation goes a long way for everyone who makes use of it. So, yes, it is for you. You just have to take your time to focus throughout the sessions. It is a bit difficult but as you keep returning to your breath every time you get distracted, you are going to be able to do it better and longer. Don’t be quick to want to experience all the benefits on your first session. It is all about building up on the previous session.
Question #10 – What if other emotions get in the way?
If you have any thoughts that stimulate your emotions, don’t worry too much about it. It happens once a while. The best way to go about it is let go of the thought, become aware and receptive to the emotions and then direct your attention back to the object you are supposed to be focusing on, that is, the breath, a candle or anything else you are using.