NEW TO MEDITATION? HERE’S 10 PRACTICAL TIPS TO HELP YOU ALONG
Meditation is like healthy eating and exercise: you know it’s good for you, and you really want to make it a habit that sticks, but it can be hard to stay on track. You’re busy, distracted and have a million thoughts racing through your head!
Of course, this is exactly why you should be meditating; it’s the cheapest, quickest and most effective way to look after your mental health and send you out into the day feeling positive and motivated.
If you’re new to meditation (or maybe this is your 15th attempt at making it a daily habit – that’s cool too), take a look at our 10 best practical tips that will have you bouncing out of bed every morning.
When it comes to meditation, it is possible to go too hard, too soon. If you’ve never meditated before and you decide you’re going to meditate for 30 minutes every day for the next six months, it’s highly likely you’ll fail and get demotivated. Commit to two minutes to start, moving up to five minutes, then 10, then 20. It’s not a race!
Choose a quiet spot to use every day
Most meditation lovers will have a favourite spot in their home to meditate, and they use it every day to build familiarity and a sense of calm. This could be sitting on the floor in your spare room, on your deck or in the corner of your bedroom (but preferably not your bed, as the mind associates this with sleep).
Don’t force yourself into uncomfortable positions
Not everyone is comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor with their hands resting on their knees (although this is a great meditation position). When you’re just starting out, it’s important to make it as easy as possible; this means sitting however is most comfortable – on a cushion, against a wall with your legs stretched out in front of you, or on the couch.
Let your thoughts in
It’s a common myth that our minds should be completely blank during meditation. This is impossible. As humans, our minds are filled with a constant stream of thoughts, and to expect them to stop when we close our eyes is being unrealistic. Instead, allow thoughts to enter your head, acknowledge them, then let them go. This is the art of mindful meditation.
Accept some things are a part of life
In a perfect world, we would be able to sit quietly in the same place every day, with no distractions, and with a clear mind. Just because this isn’t always the case, it doesn’t mean it should ruin your commitment to the meditation! Accept that you’ll have some ‘off’ days where your mind won’t stop racing. If your usual morning session isn’t possible, try your lunch break instead. Lastly, with more practice, you will be able to block out noise and distractions, meaning you can ignore the lawn mower that’s just started up outside, or try your hand at meditation anywhere at all – think the beach, public transport or your break room at work.
Don’t quit after one session
If you’re an overthinking and very busy person, it’s going to take a little while to really get the hang of meditation. Too many people try it once, attempt to stop the thoughts from entering their head, and justify giving up by telling themselves they’re “just not a meditation person.” You’re not a quitter! Challenge yourself to at least five sessions and see how you feel.
Don’t put pressure on yourself
This will only make it harder for you to succeed. Rather than beating yourself up if your practice isn’t going to plan, accept it, move on, and try again tomorrow. Can’t seem to make it to five minutes on your first try? That’s normal. Tomorrow, drop it down to two. Finding it hard to clear your mind, thanks to the running list of 10,000 things you need to do that day? No sweat. Acknowledge the thoughts, then let them pass out of your mind.
Challenge yourself to a streak
If you have a competitive edge, it can be helpful to use milestones in order to reach your goal. Just like with our other health and fitness goals, seeing improvement and results can be a huge motivator – we just need that boost to keep going! Commit to a certain goal (for example, 30 days straight), and record your sessions to track your progress. Some apps like Headspace are also great, as they give virtual awards for your hard work.
Focus on the breath
We know now that meditation isn’t always about the mind. Most of the time, it’s actually about the breath. Once you’re sitting down with your eyes closed, breathe in, following the breath as it goes in through your nostrils and down into your belly. Repeat on the way out. After a couple of minutes of tuning into your breath, your mind will calm and you’ll enter a relaxed state.
Not working out? Try daily check-ins instead
We get it, it’s easier said than done. If you’ve been trying meditation for a couple of weeks and it’s just doesn’t seem to be working for you, take the pressure off and try daily check-ins instead. At a point during the day (or several points) spend a couple of minutes completing a breathing exercise: take a deep breath in for three seconds, hold for two, then let out for four. Repeat five times. Next, check in with your mind and body: how are you feeling? Are there any particular sensations you can notice? What are a few positive affirmations you can say to yourself? Incorporate this routine into your day, and watch as you feel more positive, motivated and refreshed.
What’s your #1 tip for meditation for beginners? We’d love you to drop by the CORE+ Facebook page to share it with us!