So you’ve decided to start meditating to improve your mental health. But where do you start? What are the basic concepts of meditation? Where do you begin? What will it be like? What can we expect? All of these are entirely reasonable concerns, and fortunately for you, we have the answers you require to get started.
So you’ve decided to begin meditating?
Most newcomers to meditation find it weird to sit in silence, to sit with their innermost thoughts and sensations, to sit and do nothing. All of the above, ironically, the mind resists. Meditation may seem strange at first, even intimidating to a newcomer, but that’s good. People have been meditating for about 3,000 years. And many have undoubtedly felt the same apprehension, dread, or awe that newcomers do.
Maybe you want to start meditating because you want to be more focused, less reactive, or less anxious. Perhaps meditating is part of a larger personal development goal. Maybe you want to better your relationships with the people in your life. Whatever the cause, training the mind through meditation is awareness training. And awareness training has the power to radically shift your outlook on life.
Our entire existence is experienced through our minds, and once we start meditating, our perspective on life can drastically change. However, being motivated to begin meditating is not the same as really doing it. You will only reap the advantages of meditation if you begin and maintain a regular practice. You must meditate in order to receive meditation. To relax your mind, start by sitting with it in its natural state.
Meditation is easy to learn and includes only a few simple practices. Let’s get started by taking care of a few details and answering some common inquiries.
Meditation Is An Unique Experience
You should expect your mind to be busy, easily distracted, and restless when you close your eyes and follow the instructions of your first guided meditation (whether in person or via a recording). As you wouldn’t expect to tame a wild horse overnight; just because you’ve chosen to sit and meditate doesn’t imply you’ll immediately experience unbroken serenity.
Meditating is a simple and uncomplicated process: simply sit and practice. All you have to do is close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing, and allow your mind to work on its own. This is the one talent that you don’t have to work hard to master – all you need is a location of quiet and no effort.
There are no good or bad meditation techniques. There are only two states of consciousness: awareness and non-awareness. That’s when you become aware you’ve become lost in thinking, and that’s when you return your attention to the topic of focus (usually the breath). All you have to do now is constantly return from your distracted thinking to your breath while strengthening your awareness. The time between awareness and distraction will increase longer and longer as you practice.
It’s a good idea to educate yourself on how the mind operates and what to expect when you sit down to meditate before you begin.
Meditation does not guarantee that your issues will be solved. Nor does it guarantee that you will be happy for the rest of your life. Life will continue to happen, despite all of its difficulties and uncertainties. Meditation can help you modify how you relate to, react to, and view the events taking place around you. It provides a haven of calm in the midst of the craziness outside. The transformation that brings about is gradual, subtle, and ethereal yet profound with persistent practice — and with a certain amount of open-mindedness and desire to study. It entails a growing sense of knowledge and understanding that might transform how you feel about yourself and others in the long run.
The Right Spot At The Right Moment
- The first stage is to commit to a regular practice schedule, preferably a couple of times each week.
- Make a plan for how much time you’ll set aside—perhaps 10 or 15 minutes at first—and where you’ll sit, preferably somewhere quiet (a little bit of background noise is not an issue). Making a habit stay involves discipline and persistence, so sticking to a pattern — same time, the same place — will aid in the development of your meditation practice.
- To ensure that they remember meditation, many individuals mix it with a daily habit they already have, such as brushing their teeth. The first thing in the morning is a common time to meditate. But it’s OK to find a time that works for you, whether it’s in the morning, afternoon, or evening.
What Should You Wear?
- Put on whatever you want. The most essential thing is that you be calm and comfortable.
- If you’re wearing a tie, belt, or scarf, you should loosen it first. As well as remove any unpleasant, tight-fitting shoes or heels.
- You could also wear nothing at all if you wanted to (as long as you’re in the privacy and comfort of your own house).
How Should You Sit?
- You can meditate inside or outside, on the floor, on a cushion, a bench, a chair, or anywhere else that suits your needs. You may safely ignore clichéd ideas of sitting cross-legged beside a tree unless you want to.
- As they get more comfortable with the exercise, beginners may find it simpler to utilize an upright chair. Sitting on the chair’s front row will help you maintain proper posture: back straight, neck relaxed, chin slightly tucked in. Place your hands on your lap or knees loosely.
How Long Should You Meditate?
- The length of time you meditate depends on your own preferences, living circumstances, and available time. The crucial thing to remember is that frequency takes precedence over duration.
- It’s best to start with a 10-minute session when you’re initially starting out. The more comfortable you grow with mind training, you can always increase to 15 or 20 minutes.
- If sitting in silence for 10 minutes seems daunting when you first begin, try with three- or five-minute guided meditations. You might as well give it a try and see how it goes, then gradually increase your confidence.
Be Aware On Your Motivation
- The reasons for meditating are numerous, subjective, and unique to each individual. However, it is good, to begin with, a clear motivation – to understand why you want to meditate.
- If you merely have a hazy concept of why you’re doing it, you’ll probably find it difficult to keep up with it.
- Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve out of your sessions. Whether it’s to feel happier, calmer, more focused, or less stressed, for example — will go a long way toward establishing the correct mindset and keeping the commitment to yourself.
Day By Day, Take It Slow
- Meditation is a lifelong journey, not a race to instant success.
- Take it one session at a time, day by day, remembering that this is a technique that demands dedication, patience, and practise to master, with the rewards appearing gradually over time.
- There is no such thing as “good” or “poor” meditation, or “success” or “failure,” only awareness and non-awareness, or distraction and non-distraction.
- The more the mind learns to become less distracted and our awareness stabilises, the better.
We meditate to improve our present-moment awareness. The goal of this skill is to make us more aware of our surroundings and less distracted during the day. It’s vital to acknowledge the quality of your mind at the end of your meditation and then make the intention to take that quality into the remainder of your day. Make a clear plan for what you’ll do next, whether it’s brushing your teeth, showering, or preparing breakfast. It’s all too easy to jump out of your seat and lose the quiet, expansive feeling you achieved when meditating, so be careful of bringing this awareness into your next activity.
Common Issues For Beginners
It’s absolutely natural to run into roadblocks when you first start meditating, whether it’s restlessness, boredom, fear, anxiety, overload, or general resistance. All hurdles will fade away with time and practice, and the process will feel easier. It’s important to realize that everyone enters meditation with a lifetime of conditioning. The mind is accustomed to being occupied. It isn’t used to being still. As a result, it will buck and kick until it gets used to the strange concept of letting go and doing nothing.
1. Finding Time For Meditation
- Finding the time to meditate is the most common challenge, but it doesn’t matter if you miss a day or three.
- The most successful practice is one that is repeated on a regular basis, but what matters most is that you take up where you left off and give yourself those 10 or 15 minutes — or whatever period you choose — to care for your mental health.
- If it’s been a while since you’ve meditated, say a month, it can be beneficial to go over some of the basics again.
2. Too Many Distractions
- Many beginners feel that every meditation session should begin with a library-like silence; making them hypersensitive to any distraction or sound. It’s vital to understand that you’re not supposed to sit in complete silence; rather, you’re supposed to settle into your surroundings with all of the sounds that come with them, whether it’s a noisy neighbor, screaming kids on the street, or a reversing truck.
- Allow those sounds to come and go without resistance rather than concentrating on them or trying to tune them out and becoming frustrated when you can’t.
- If you’re having trouble with this at first, you may always use earplugs or noise-canceling earbuds.
3. Feeling Sleepy During Meditation
It’s common to feel sleepy — and perhaps nod off — when you first start practicing meditation. This is due to the mind’s confusion of “doing nothing” with rest. It will eventually be able to distinguish between a relaxed focus (what you’re aiming for) and utter relaxation (a byproduct of meditation).
Three suggestions that may help you stay attentive and awake:
- Sitting upright, rather than lying down, is the best way to meditate.
- When your mind is freshest, try meditating first thing in the morning.
- Allow some fresh air in by opening a window.
Myths About Meditation
Meditation is one of those practices and traditions that has a lot of misconceptions and stigmas linked to it. All the myths are based on assumptions that are based on rumor, myth, and media portrayals. Many people think of meditation and immediately identify it with names and imagery such as “New Age,” “woo-woo,” “granola,” and “tree huggers.” People of different ages and walks of life who seek to better understand the mind have been meditating for hundreds of years; there is no “particular sort of person” who meditates.
One of the most common misconceptions is that meditation is essentially religious. Meditation is a technique, not a philosophy. Some people utilize meditation in a religious context. But meditation is not intrinsically religious simply because it is used in that way.
Another myth is that meditation is taken too seriously, with meditators sitting cross-legged with arms extended, repeating the word “ohhhmmm” aloud. While some people prefer to meditate sitting cross-legged, perhaps in nature or by the beach, the truth is that many people prefer to meditate sitting in a chair with their hands on their laps. All you’re doing is sitting with your mind, becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Everyone has a mind, and everyone struggles with it from time to time (or thoughts).
NBA basketball players, Team Great Britain Olympians, NFL Scouting Combine prospects, the US swim team, and English Premier League soccer players, to mention a few, have all turned to meditation as part of their mental preparation. They’re not hugging trees or lighting incense (though neither are bad things); they’re just putting their heads in the game and realizing that their mental health is just as essential as their physical health.