Meditation can be really difficult for many people. When I started meditating, my mind would wander, actually it wouldn’t just wander…it would run, kind of like a hamster on its wheel with no destination. I wanted to know, how do I meditate where my mind could be still. What I later discovered and what the fact of the matter is, simply put, is that there is no “proper” way to mediate. Sometimes I meditate in a traditional way where I sit quietly, but sometimes I meditate while walking or even when I’m scrubbing dishes.
Find a quiet place where you know you will not be interrupted. This is my way of saying, lock the door! Your meditation space should be somewhere you feel safe and a place that is quiet and comfortable. This part can sometimes be a challenge, especially for women that have young children.
Turn off your phone or better yet, leave it in another room. Turn off all electronics that can beep or make noise that could distract you. The same goes for children and spouses that may seek your attention. Let them know you need a bit of uninterrupted time by yourself.
Likewise, in addition to finding a quiet place, find a time that works best for you. Ideally, the best times for meditating are in the early morning or late at night, because this is when it typically is more peaceful and quiet and you can relax.
Some people find it helpful for their focus to have soft background noise. This can be “white noise” or nature sounds, such as waves crashing, birds chirping or the sound of the breeze through the trees.
One type of sound I love using is binural beats, which can be hugely effective for focus as well as calming the mind. Binural beats, also known as Brainwave Entrainment is a therapeutic method that uses specialized sounds to influence the electronic activity of the brain. The brain naturally emits waves in varying frequencies. Each frequency range is related to a different brain-state and can induce that state for the person listening. It is excellent for meditation time. For more binural beats, click here: Brainwave Entrainment at Positivity Toolbox.
Stretch. Some people like to stretch before meditation. This helps release physical tension in the body and begins to calm the mind.
Set your intentions for your meditation. You can say to yourself, “Today my goals are:” and then recite your goal(s) to yourself. Some examples are:
While the intention is being set, many people enjoy lighting a candle. Lighting a candle can be a nice ritual during meditation. Setting your intention is the time to work out where you intend to go with your meditation. Pre-planning does not necessarily mean you will go in the direction you plan, but it gives you a good place to start. (Not knowing where your meditation will go is part of the beauty and effective nature of meditation.)
A common frustration for beginner meditators is to assume that meditation is all much the same with the same goal. This is a misunderstanding because meditation can cover many different goals, including healing, insight, calmness, energy, mindfulness, a path to happiness and self-realization. There are even meditations to help you through tough times in life, such as overcoming abuse, addiction, illness and stress. Meditation can also include cultivating love, compassion, peace and spiritual enlightenment.
Let Go and Let it Be. Whatever your intention through meditation let the chatter of the mind dissipate. You can simply observe your breath and the meandering thoughts that will pass through your mind. Whatever the thought, eventually there will be another one and then another one. Let each one appear and then dissolve in your mind – acknowledge it and return your focus to your breathe. This is an opportunity for you to find a technique of dissipating thought that works best for you – sometimes all you need to do is just be and feel being alive.
Time. In terms of the length of time to be spent meditating, it is best for beginners to aim for 10 to 15 minutes initially, and gradually build up if you want. Some people like to use a Meditation Timer that gently signals when the meditation time is coming to a close.
Posture. Often when we envision meditating, we see yoga images of people in the full lotus posture, with their eyes closed and appearing deeply at peace. Few people can actually do the lotus posture without training or strain. In fact, few people can even sit upright for a long period. In terms of posture, it is up to you. If you want to sit in full lotus, that is wonderful, but the general guideline is to sit comfortably, but not too comfortably. Reason being because you could risk dozing off and falling asleep. Some experts recommend sitting with both feet flat on the ground for ideal energy flow.
On somewhat of a side note, some like to meditate while walking and while this is a different technique than that discussed here, it is a great form of meditation.
To begin your meditation, close your eyes and start by relaxing and letting go of distractions. You can say those exact words to yourself if it helps (“I begin this meditation by relaxing and letting go of distractions”). You can practice tensing and relaxing muscle groups on by one and/or imagining a tranquil scenery. Next focus on your breath. Breathing mindfully is great for keeping focus, reducing stress and deepening your awareness.
Now, simply see where you go during your time. If you find your mind wandering way “off track” such as writing your grocery list, choosing paint for your kitchen, or thinking about how long its been that you’ve been meditating and wondering how many minutes have passed, simply acknowledge that you have wondered and move back to your breathing.