Are you thinking to yourself, "Ten minutes, I don’t have an extra ten minutes a day! My life is already jam packed with work, family, social obligations, and I’m not even mentioning my growing to-do list"?
Well, what if I told you that the benefits of meditation include a reduction in stress, sharpened concentration, improved circulation – and as you get further into your practice you’ll experience a quieter mind, a more open and receptive heart, a sense of inner freedom – and perhaps even a streak of creativity that’ll help you make films like David Lynch. (Lynch has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over thirty years).
Here are six easy tips and meditation techniques for beginners that will help get you started. These tips worked for me when I began my practice – and although I’m a lot further along then I was a year ago when I first started, I still have a way to go – as it’s important to remember that meditation is a process.
1. Be comfortable in a quiet place. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. To get started, it doesn’t matter whether you sit or lay down as long as you are comfortable. You can sit cross-legged, on the floor, or on a chair. If you can sit erect, then great. If not, it’s just important to have your body in a somewhat stable position. Then have the palms of your hands face the sky.
2. Become "present", i.e., become totally aware of your current surroundings. What do you hear? How does it feel to sit? Do you feel tension in a specific body part? Where are your thoughts? Are your thoughts running? (That’s perfectly fine, it happens to the meditation pros, too). Just try to sit and "smell the roses" as best you can.
3. Focus on your breath. Breath, breath, breath. Meditation (and yoga for that matter), is all about the breath. Try to take long and deep breaths, and feel your breath move throughout your body — from your lungs and out through your nostrils or your throat. (Breathing through your nostrils is better though either will work). Your mind will wonder (which is okay), just try your best to be as focused as possible. And as meditation guru, Sharon Salzberg always says, "bring it back to the breath."
4. Feel your body. Once you’re focused, take notice of your body and how each body part feels. Start with the toes and work your way up to your head. If your mind continues to wonder then bring your thoughts back to your breath. Breath 5-10 times with full concentration on each breath. Take it a step further and hum “Om” as you breathe out if you feel like it. If not, no biggie.
5. Learn from the pros. Deepak Chopra does a lot of things well – including meditation. Check out his 11-minute video where he walks through some great meditation techniques for beginners. Not into video, and you’d rather read? Jack Kornfield’s book, Meditation for Beginners, is one of the best, quick-reads on meditation you’ll find. And if you’re ever in New York City and would like to check out a class then there’s none better than Sharon Salzberg’s beginner meditation classes at the Tibet House.
6. Practice, practice, practice! Like anything, practice makes perfect. Make sure to carve out a time each and every day to practice. You’ll hopefully find all your practice totally worth it as meditation can be life-changing!