If you’re new to meditating, then you’ve come to the right place! Practicing meditation has a plethora of health benefits, including lowering stress levels, learning how to be kinder to yourself, and even connecting better with others. So, find your inner Zen with these 1o mindful meditation techniques. All you need is some comfy clothes and a yoga mat! Let’s jump in!
Before you begin meditating, it’s important to find your “safe space.” Pick out a spot where you feel most comfortable. This might be by a window with natural light streaming in, or it might be outside under your favorite tree, with the wind rustling the leaves. Regardless of where you meditate, make sure it’s a place where you can relax. Consider investing in a comfy pillow or yoga mat to sit on, too!
There’s no right way to sit while meditating. The main point is that you’ll be sitting in the same position for a while, and so you want to be as comfortable as possible! If sitting criss-cross applesauce works for you, great! If not, you can sit on your knees, loosely cross-legged, or you can even try sitting in a chair! No matter how you choose to sit, try to maintain stability and stillness.
One of the best ways to start meditating is to focus on your breathing. Notice every inhale, every exhale, and how the weight of each breath expands your chest. Make sure to take long, deep breaths, and follow the movement of your breath as it goes in and out.
If you’re just starting out, meditating can be a bit tricky. When you’re “doing nothing,” time moves slowly, and you might find yourself getting restless. And you know what, that’s OK! But you can help curve this inclination by only meditating for short time, like 5 minutes. This way, you are telling yourself, “Hey, I only need to focus for X amount of time, and then it will be over.” So go and get your timer and set realistic goals. Don’t worry, over the course of weeks you will be able to work your way up to 10, 20, and even 30 minutes!
It is only natural for your thoughts to wander or for your breathing to fluctuate. In fact, meditation is not the act of maintaining an empty mind, but rather acknowledging our distractions, and then using energy and focus to bring us back to steady breathing.
I have an exercise I want you to try: Close your eyes and picture a sky. In this great big sky, the canvas of your mind, there are stars, rainbows, and yes, clouds. But, every now and then a dark cloud will pass by, and each one carries dark or distracting thoughts. Instead of watching the rainclouds turn into a raging storm, you are simply going to let each cloud drift away. You are going to notice your distractions, then gently guide them away.
Inevitably, your mind will wander when you meditate, and that’s OK! You’re not going to completely clear your mind of thoughts on the first couple of tries, or even after months! So be kind to yourself! Don’t hate yourself when you notice you’re worrying about your job or family. Instead, guide yourself back to deep breathing, and focus on inhaling and exhaling again.
If you’re new to meditating, it’s important to keep at it and not go long periods of time without meditating. So, set physical reminders to help you stay on track. This can be anything from sticky notes in your planner, to leaving your yoga mat out on the floor so you see it first thing in the morning.
Maybe sitting isn’t for you, and to be honest, we’ve all done a lot of sitting this last year anyway, with the stay-at-home order. So, try a walking meditation session!
Begin by walking at a natural pace and place your hands at your side. With every step you take, pay attention to the placement of each foot, the lifting and falling of your feet. Acknowledge the movement in your legs and the rhythm of your body in motion. Again, your thoughts will wander, so simply guide them back to the sensation of walking. No matter how many times you have to, continue to gently guide your mind back to the movements you’re making.
If you are finding it difficult to meditate on your own, consider trying a guided mindful meditation. There are literally hundreds on Youtube, all at various lengths, so pop in your headphones and pick one that interests you! Stay as present as possible and take in everything the speaker has to say.
These guided mindful meditations are perfect for trying to get to sleep, too. They are designed to help you relax your mind and stay in the moment. For bedtime meditations, you can lay down as if you are about to go to sleep, trying your best to be as comfortable as possible.
You’re not going to be an expert on meditation overnight! Know that it takes years, (yes, you heard me) YEARS to effectively meditate! Your mind is going to wander hundreds of times, and you might even want to give up. Remember, acknowledge the distractions you’re facing and then come back to your breathing.
Also, there’s no “one true way” to meditate, so find what works for you! Explore the many types of guided meditations, books, and exercises out there. The most important thing is that you are learning more about yourself, and learning to silence all the chaos that goes on in your head.
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