This post was written by a guest author.
In simplest terms, meditation is about completely focusing one’s attention on a single object, concept, or action. There are several different ways to meditate, and many different belief systems built around different kinds of meditation, but in a nutshell, that is all that meditation is. Doesn’t sound too difficult, does it? Unfortunately though, it isn’t quite as easy as it seems. Sitting or lying down somewhere and not visibly doing anything might not look that tough, but most of us will probably start feeling antsy after a few minutes of doing it.
7 Meditation Tips for Beginners
If you haven’t tried meditation before, it can be a bit of a challenge to get into it. Meditation beginners often have trouble holding their concentration on a single thing. As a beginner, don’t be surprised or disappointed if you find your mind beginning to wander barely three minutes after your first “Om.”
Here are a few meditation tips for beginners to help you keep your concentration and get your serenity on.
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1. Do a few stretches beforehand. Starting your meditation with tense muscles can make it a little difficult to concentrate, so loosen up with a few stretches so that you can sit or lie down more comfortably. Basic yoga poses like the Downward Dog or the Cobra are great, but even if you aren’t familiar with yoga, the stretches you learned in P.E. class will do nicely. An additional benefit to stretching before starting with your meditation is that you become more aware of your body, and can move your consciousness inward more easily.
2. Use your breath as a starting point. Breathing is something we do without even thinking. However, the way we breathe can affect how we feel. Consciously taking slow, deep breaths can help you bring your mind into the present and allow it to focus more easily. It also relaxes your muscles and slows down your heart rate.
3. Be proactive. Yes, meditating is an internal process, but it isn’t a passive one. As a meditation newbie, you will soon realize that the process of meditation is an active one. You need to consciously focus your attention on something; whether it is a mantra, a prayer, an image, or a meditation recording. This can be challenging, so engage, and do so with purpose!
4. Try out different types of meditation. There is no single way to meditate, and you may respond to some meditation techniques better than others. For example, you might find that you meditate better lying down with your eyes open, rather than sitting up with your eyes closed. Meditating effectively doesn’t just mean sitting in the Lotus Position under a Bodhi tree.
5. Use meditation paraphernalia. If you are unsure of how to start your meditation practice, listening to instructional CDs or mp3s can be a huge help. Books on meditation are also very useful, especially those that offer instructions and describe the benefits that meditation and deeply meditative states can offer.
6. Acknowledge your negative emotions. If you’re a meditation beginner, don’t be surprised if you feel frustration and discouragement rearing their ugly heads during your practice. You may find yourself thinking “my mind is too loud,” or “This isn’t going anywhere, what the heck am I doing here?” That’s perfectly OK. Just concentrate on your breathing, and let those feelings flow away.
7. Pay attention to your body. One of the best ways to find out if you are meditating effectively is if you are aware of your body even as you enter a meditative state. To help your mind go quiet, pay attention to how your feet feel, and slowly work your way up and out through your limbs and organs. Afterwards, you may be surprised at how eloquent your body can actually be.
Yes, meditation isn’t the easiest thing to do, but once you make it a part of your life, its benefits can be innumerable. Unfortunately, meditating can be especially tough if you’re trying it for the first time. Don’t worry though, these easy tips can help you tackle the challenge and reap the full benefits of effective meditation.
If you’d like more ways to have a calmer life, check out our Slow it Down class.