Meditation for beginners
Meditation and mindfulness are buzz words nowadays. Everyone is doing it, except for you. It may be because you don’t know where to begin and want to know how to start meditating. There is so much information out there and such a variety of techniques. You’ve gone into overload. Or you may feel silly and uncomfortable asking as you feel you should know. Because everyone else does. So, it’s easier to not do it and even pretend rather than reach out.
Remember we all started from somewhere. I did. I put off learning how to meditate for a few years as I had too much on my plate and felt I couldn’t bring another thing into my life. Furthermore, it’s wasn’t so popular 18 years ago. Little information was accessible at the time. Finally, I stopped resisting and started. And it was the best thing I ever did all those years ago.
Where do I begin when learning how to meditate?
Let’s start from the beginning and get back to basics. It’s useful to understand the difference between the practice of meditation and mindfulness. This will give you clarity and help with the confusion.
I know it helped me to know what was what and how to bring them into my days. It was important for me to know that it was a practice and I didn’t have to be perfect at it. I could simply sit down and start. I always wondered how to meditate properly, but there is no right or wrong way to do it. Yes, there are guidelines and best practice. But don’t let this put you off.
In theory, you ‘shouldn’t’ fall asleep during meditation. The idea is to remain present and aware. Well, I did for the first year as my body needed the deep rest it generated. And I can still fall asleep if it’s needed.
What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness?
Simply put meditation is the practice of sitting still, going inward and becoming familiar with the qualities of mindfulness. Mindfulness is active. It is about being conscious and present in your all that you do in everyday life.
When you sit quietly you begin to free yourself from distraction and overwhelm. Meditation creates the stillness for you to observe your mind to become mindful in your life. You become aware of your thoughts and feelings. And how you distract yourself from being with yourself. For most of that is uncomfortable as it’s easier not to know or pretend that it’s not happening.
What you are doing is experiencing. Experiencing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in your body. They come to the surface when you pause and take the time to tune and listen.
Both meditation and mindfulness are natural states of being. Due to our busyness, we’ve forgotten how to access this state of wellbeing and our intuition.
What meditation is not
It’s not about having no thoughts and having peace of mind. That is simply not possible, because you’ll always have thoughts. So, take a breath of relief. It is what you do with those thoughts. That is a whole topic on it is own. I have a whole section on this in my Unfold Your Meditation online course.
‘Thought by itself has no power. It is only your belief in a thought that gives it power.’ Mooji
What we are aiming for is to tame your thoughts. To reign them in. No longer allowing them to hijack you and take you well away from being present.
Eventually, you will become comfortable sitting quietly, even if your mind is still busy. You learnt to accept what is. There is freedom in that.
Meditating isn’t about being perfect and getting it right. So often we criticise ourselves for not getting it right. There is no right or wrong. And there is no judgement. It is simply what is. Not every meditation is going to be the same. Sometimes, you’ll ace it. Other times, you’ll feel as if nothing happened at all. Trust that it has.
Furthermore, it’s also not only associated with yogis and spiritualists. It’s for everyone. Anyone at any age can practice meditation. That’s what so wonderful about it.
The aim of meditation and mindfulness
What you are doing is finding focus and awareness to still that busy mind of yours. What you are aiming for is to bring yourself into the present moment to create a wonderful sense of peace, calm, harmony, and balance, and accepting what is no matter what is happening in your life. So, you can connect to an inner stillness when chaos is all around you. This way you are leading a fulfilling life full of love, joy, happiness and freedom, despite it all.
How to meditate
- Don’t get too caught up in the how
This is what stops us from doing most things. The How. It has stopped me from doing stuff that I really wanted to do. Then when I did finally get round to it, I wondered why I hadn’t done it before. So if you’re wondering how to do meditation, simply start, even if it’s right now reading this. Push your chair back, close your eyes and focus on breathing for a couple of moments. There you’ve started.
- Decide on a time
You know yourself the best. Choose what suits you. I know for me it’s in the morning before I get into my day. Whereas others love practising at the end of the day, or meditating just before bed. Experiment with a few times until you feel what is right for you. And it can always change.
- Decide where
Wherever you feel most comfortable. You may prefer to sit or lie on the floor or bed. As long as you can be still without distractions. Make sure your arms and legs are uncrossed and your back is straight. Your eyes and mouth are lightly closed. And you feel warm, as in not too hot or not too cold. These are all potential distractions.
- For how long
There are no hard and fast rules on how long to meditate daily. If you are a beginner, start with short periods of time, for example, 3-, 5-, or 10-minute sessions. This way you don’t put yourself off and can build up your practice finding your sweet spot. The most important thing is to start and also feels achievable so you continue to show up each day. In the beginning, I set a timer so I could fully relax and not worry about the time.
- Don’t worry about getting it wrong
This stops you from starting. The perfectionist in you comes out and tells you that you can’t do this. Yes, you can. Over a period of time, you’ll become friends with this side of you and it won’t dictate your life to the extent it does now.
- Count your breaths
A great way to still your mind is to focus on your breath. All you need to do is place the attention on your breath as you inhale and then as you exhale. Count “one” as you breathe in, then “two” as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10, then start again at one. Feel yourself relaxing and beginning to feel calm.
A lovely way to end your meditation and to congratulate yourself is to smile . Feel that smile in the whole of your body knowing that you can now get back into your day with a wonderful sense of being present.
That’s it and all you need to do. It’s that simple and that hard. Only you can decide when you want to start. All I can say it will change your life for the better.
Remember that meditation is a skill and a practice. You must keep at it to gain the multitude of benefits. Make a commitment to yourself every day to take this time for yourself and watch you how you change.
Take your practice even further, I have created an online meditation course, Unfold Your Meditation. All in one place, you’ll have the information at your fingertips on the benefits of meditation, the difference between meditation and mindfulness, posture, how to deal with your thoughts and loads of different meditations to get you started.
The ultimate goal is to be able to meditate on your own and not only rely on guided meditations. This way you can meditate anywhere, anyhow and anytime.
Chantal Vanderhaeghen is an intuitive guide, small business owner, creator of an international skincare brand, passionate philanthropist and meditation, reiki, tapping and mindfulness teacher. She works with women ready to make changes, shatters perceptions of beauty and perfection, and inspires people ready to become mindful entrepreneurs. She lives with her talented man in the Perth Hills and can be found online at www.unfoldyoufreedom.com.au
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