A Beginner’s Guide To Meditation
Experts agree that meditation is indeed a powerful practice that offers a diverse number of benefits. You don’t need to mediate for hours a day to enjoy these remarkable health benefits either. Research shows even just 10 minutes a day makes a positive difference to your well being.
Perhaps now more than ever before it is important for us to find ways to move away from a place of stress, anxiety and ‘doing’ towards simply being. Meditation has been proven to not only lower stress and anxiety levels, but also has the power to increase immunity, improve sleep, reduce pain, lower blood pressure, increase fertility, improve digestion, support emotional well being and improve mental functioning.
So, how do you start a meditation practice? Well, the good news is, meditation is simple, it can be done anywhere and at any time of the day and can be enjoyed by any age group.
Here are some tips to support you in developing (and honouring) your own meditation practice.
Create a special space
Dedicate a corner of your room or a space in your home or garden that you use exclusively for meditation. Make sure it is somewhere comfortable with good air flow and gentle light. This should be a place where you can sit undisturbed and feel safe. Eventually, even just entering this cosy nook will begin to initiate the relaxation response in your body.
Schedule it in
There is always a reason not to meditate! Life happens and appointments and commitments can easily get in the way. Try and choose the same time each day that you can dedicate to your meditation practice, this will help to create new neural networks in the brain. Perhaps this means setting your alarm for ten minutes earlier than usual, or setting an alarm for a time in the day when you can take a break on your own.
Use an app
Meditation is indeed an age old practice, but modern times have catered to our digital dependence and there are several apps on the market that can really support you as your take those first tentative steps into the world of meditation. These apps offer a little more guidance and structure that can keep you on track in a way that is familiar. Try Insight Timer, Headspace, Buddhify or Stop, Breath, Think.
Try a mala
If you are looking for a little extra support and focus without a digital device, try a mala. Mala beads were developed to assist meditation and prayer. The 108 beads are counted as you recite a mantra of your choosing. This is a beautiful, sacred practice that allows you to connect deeply with a more spiritual side of yoga and meditation.
Meditation should not be about discomfort or suffering. Luckily, you’re allowed (and encouraged!) to be comfortable in meditation. Remaining seated is best so you stay awake, but you can use a pillow, cushion, blanket and other props to ensure you can sit comfortably with ease.
Try starting off even with five minutes at the beginning. Establishing a habit is more important than the duration. Once your initial commitment becomes habitual, then you can easily look at gently extending this time to ten or fifteen minutes as you feel ready.
The mind processes thoughts – that’s what it is there to do! So don’t be disheartened if you find it challenging to still your thoughts. The practice of meditation is to learn how to dis-attach to these thoughts – they come and they go. Like anything in life, over time as you practice, it becomes easier to train your mind to let go.
Firstly, get comfortable in your quiet space.
Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath and focus on the sensation or sound of your breath as you inhale and then as you exhale. Do not force your breathing, just breathe naturally.
Every time your mind begins to shift its attention away from the breath, simply bring it back again. Use the physical sensations of the breath to help you – this may be the feeling of the inhale and exhale in your nose, or the rise and fall of your belly.
If you like, you can add in a word on the inhale and exhale, even saying ‘breathing in,’ and ‘breathing out,’ can be helpful to keep you focused and relaxed.
You may like to set a timer for the duration you would like to sit for. When the timer sounds, gently open your eyes.
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