Meditation calms the mind, releases stress and relaxes the body. It’s a great practice for everyone to take up, especially people like me who have an unreasonable amount of thoughts going on in their head at any given moment and tend to get anxious.
I recently discovered meditation after challenging myself to practice yoga every day for one month (I’m still doing it every day, too!). It seemed like a natural extension of yoga and a beneficial practice to explore.
If you’re looking to reduce stress, improve brain function, become happier, increase your attention span, sleep better, increase self-awareness, or just live a healthier lifestyle, give meditation a try.
Here are some tips you’ll want to know to start practicing meditation.
Find a quiet place
Especially when you’re first starting out, find a place to meditate that has zero distractions. No people, no loud noises, no animals. Just silence. This will keep you from getting pulled out of your meditation, allowing you to fully release.
Sit in a comfortable position
No, I don’t mean sitting on the couch or lying in bed. You can sit cross-legged on the floor or a cushion. If you’re more comfortable in a chair, choose one that has a firm seat and allows your feet to rest flat on the floor. Keep your back straight while you meditate so you stay alert and focused on your breath.
Situate all your body parts
Your eyes can be open or closed depending on which option allows you to concentrate more easily. Place your hands where they can rest comfortably, likely on the thighs. The most important thing to remember is that meditation is about the mind so you want the body to be as comfortable and distraction-free as possible.
Set a timer
Choose the amount of time you want to meditate and set a timer so you don’t have to think about when time is up. Program your timer to alert you with quiet, calm music so you aren’t jarred out of your meditation. If you’re using a timer on your phone, be sure to turn off all text, call and other alerts to avoid distraction.
Sit in silence or play music
You have three options here. You can sit in silence, play calming music, or play a guided meditation. Sitting in silence can be good for those who get distracted by noises, but also distracting for those with a loud mind. YouTube has plenty of meditation music to choose from and guided meditation can be good for beginners by leading you to a place of focus.
Be gentle on your wandering mind
In the spirit of self-love, if and when your mind starts to wander away from your breathing, gently push the thought away and bring your focus back to your breath. Understand that meditation is a practice and don’t beat yourself up if you catch your mind thinking or becoming restless. Just lovingly tell yourself, “It’s ok, let’s try again.”
Here’s what my meditations usually look like
I meditate for five to ten minutes sitting cross-legged in the center of my yoga room with the lights off and my eyes closed. I count my breathing (one…two…one…two) to give my mind a place to focus. I put on some quiet, relaxing music and set my timer.
I usually meditate right after yoga because I’ve just burned off excess energy, allowing my mind to let go. When my mind wanders and I catch myself thinking about my to-do list or my next blog post or what’s for dinner, I smile and refocus on my breath.
Once my timer starts to chime, I smile again and thank God for the time to sit there and care for myself, and I thank myself for taking that time.