Starting A Meditation Practice: A Beginners Guide
The number one cause of illness in humanity today is stress. During my move not so long ago, a friend reminded me, "Whether it's good stress or bad stress, it's still stress."
And sometimes it won't feel like it because we're not panicked enough, worried enough or disorganized enough. However, it all adds up, and what we do with those moments have a huge impact on our mental and emotional faculties.
It isn't news that meditation is today's 'new' medicine. Every third person in this day and age is boarding the train and catching a ride to calm, peace and more personal freedom. This practice has been around for centuries, and while we marvel on the effects it has on our well-being, it is crucial to our emotional, physical and mental or spiritual health.
Meditation gives our body a break from the busy-ness, to-do lists and unfavorable emotions we pick up during the day. It's not required that we be stressed to use it. In fact, just starting this practice and using it during any condition will make an immense difference in the way we handle stress, the relationships we encounter, and our tiniest of day-to-day moments.
By maintaining a meditation practice, you're participating in becoming more efficient and effective in anything you take on.
1. Let's go behind the curtain
There is a gap between our thoughts and meditation connects us to this space between thoughts. This field is limitless potential, and when we are tuned into it, we connect with a universe of infinite information. We learn to meditate for this purpose: to quieten our minds in order to access our inner guidance and intuition.
One of the biggest misconceptions we have when starting this practice is that shutting off our thoughts is required. That is not the goal here. Another misconception is that great effort is needed. Trying too hard will only hinder our progress. Besides, our minds are filled with so much data, day in and out, it's just about impossible to stop it from not thinking.
So, the point of meditation is not to stop our thoughts, but to get good at being, getting good at doing life. Putting too much effort into this practice changes the focus of the practice anyway.
2. Why meditate?
Besides connecting to a field of infinite information, we can meditate for a myriad of reasons. Really, it's up to you why you find yourself attracted to it. When I first came to this practice, it was mainly to tap into my inner resources, live from a clearer space and learn to maintain calm under challenging circumstances.
In almost no time, I discovered greater benefits to sitting down and tuning in for a few minutes a day. I began to change, and discovered juicy reserves I didn't know I had. And things like my joy and intuition were strengthened because of these reserves.
For some, it can be for the following:
To still our monkey minds
Increase our connection to Source
Cleanse and calm our physical bodies
Creating more ease and space in our lives
Other benefits of daily meditation:
It reduces stress
Lowers your blood pressure
Reduces heart disease
And my personal favorite: it resets our biological clock. In other words, slows down the aging process.
3. Beginning this practice
When you begin, you will realize how scattered or unruly the mind really is. Our heads are congested with information, that starting out is often the most challenging part. Have patience. You will get there.
As said above, the point is not to stop thoughts from coming in. They will be there. As that happens, gently imagine them landing on a moving cloud. And then, that cloud floating away with the thoughts.
Another thing that will most likely happen is that you will fall asleep or become extremely tired. This is not because you are doing it wrong. It is because you are probably so tired that your body is resetting itself and getting what it needs during your practice.
Fatigue shows up through meditation, and the yawning and tiresome process could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It really depends on the individual's lifestyle. A lot of people judge themselves for this. You're doing nothing wrong. The body is simply resetting. With enough self care and rest, it will eventually work itself out.
There is no incorrect way of doing this practice, although I would suggest the following before you begin:
If you're just starting out, do not meditate lying down. You're likely to fall asleep.
Meditate first thing in the morning, even if you're still in bed. What happens with most people is, the moment we get out of our bedrooms and go do that one thing, we don't go back and do the practice. Meditate before you get distracted.
Skip the meditation or postpone it for later. Your body's request for rest is far more important. Should you find yourself falling asleep and too tired, honor your body and sleep.
4. Ready, Set, Go!
Create a space
Sit in a comfortable position that you can maintain for the duration of your practice. Make sure your phone is not in a place where it will disturb you, and keep animals out of the room you're in.
Set an intention
Set an intention for what you want to achieve during your mediation. It could be anything as simple as achieving calm for your day, to gaining clarity over a decision that needs making.
Let go of what you think meditation is
Drop any preconceived notions of what you think it is, and discover it for yourself. Meditation nourishes everyone in a different way.
Use a mantra that is comfortable for you
Mantras are a good tool to use if you want to focus on something bigger than yourself and not get distracted as much. There are countless mantras you can find on Google with different meanings. I would recommend you shop around and find one that you best resonate with. All you will do is silently repeat it until your practice is over.
Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Once you've taken three deep breaths, begin to silently chant your mantra. Don't stress about or judge yourself for any thoughts that come in. Gently move them away, focusing on your mantra.
At the end of your meditation, open your eyes and notice how you feel. In time, this muscle builds and it becomes much easier to slip into and maintain.
You may choose to do this once or twice daily. Around about two weeks is usually when people start to notice real, tangible shifts in their environment and inside themselves. In fact, there is an expansion that happens each time you tune in, an experience that can only be described through this practice.
There is more I'll be sharing about the topic of meditation in the near future. In the meantime, if you want a few more tips that I may not have covered here, this video was created a while back to cover some basics that may not have been mentioned.
Happy tuning in!
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