When you meditate, you access deeper brainwave states, helping to clear distracting thoughts, reduce stress and boost brainpower while cultivating a spiritual connection and reaching deeper states of awareness and wholeness.
Meditation trains us to use the inevitable challenges of life as opportunities to grow. This class breaks down and demystifies meditation.
Have you always wanted to meditate, but don't know where to begin? Or, did you start a meditation practice but quickly fell off the wagon? All you need is a little instruction on how to train your brain and before you know it, you'll be harnessing the power of your mind and improving your life.
Here are 10 easy tips to start meditating right now and maintain a daily practice.
1. Get comfortable.
We tend to make meditation more complicated and challenging than necessary. Take it easy. Start by taking a comfortable seat. If you're flexible sit cross-legged on the floor, on a meditation cushion, bolster or blanket — with your knees resting slightly below your hips. If you're not, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor.
2. Same "Bat Time," same "Bat Channel."
One of the most lucrative ways to coax the mind into submission is to create a ritual. Set a clearly designated space for meditation. This can be as simple as a thoughtfully placed candle, picture or stone. You'll also want to practice at the same time every day. Start with the same protocol for each meditation. Routine triggers the mind out of the logical, linear thinking of the left brain, into the intuitive, non-linear right hemisphere.
3. Sit tall.
Posture 101: Sit up nice and tall by straightening your spine. Sit in a chair or against a wall if you need to. Lengthen the spine to help increase your circulation and keep you alert.
4. Start small.
Start where you are. If 10 minutes seems overwhelming, begin with five. After a week, begin to add one minute to your practice each week until you build up to 30 minutes (or more) at a time.
5. Be nice to yourself (really nice!).
As renowned meditation teacher Sally Kempton says, "Meditation is Relationship."
Ultimately, it is all about your relationship to yourself. The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Meditation teaches us radical acceptance, compassion and unconditional love. Be sweet to your convoluted mind. Surrender to exactly who you are and what is happening — right here, right now. And don't forget to smile!
6. Note your excuses.
Meditation is a practice of self-inquiry. Observe the excuses you tell yourself — I'm too tired or I don't have time. You can carve 5 to 10 minutes out of your day. Notice how your mind can tend to rationalize when you break your commitment. Just observe and understand without judgment. Then recommit to your practice without making excuses.
7. Find a meditation buddy.
Accountability is the answer to your excuses. Find a buddy to commit to meditating with. Find a friend who is also beginning to meditate, or join a Facebook group or online course. Your struggle is normal…but it will get easier.
8. Practice makes perfect.
Or at least perfectly imperfect. As the Ashtanga guru, Patthabi Jois says, "Practice. Practice. Practice. All is coming."
Like anything in life, we get better with practice. Think of your meditation as bicep curls for the muscle of your mind. You are training your brain to focus, concentrate and let go. Over time, with consistency, you WILL become more skillful.
9. Just breathe.
The breath is a gateway to the realm beyond the mind — our higher consciousness. Our mind is addicted to analyzing the past or projecting into the future. BUT the breath is only in the here and now. Focus on your breath to anchor the mind into the present moment.
10. Start a meditation journal.
End your practice each day by observing the benefits of your practice. How do I feel? What is my emotional state or mood?
Make note of any changes so they register in your body and conscious mind. So next time you resist meditation, flip through the notes you made in your journal to remember these benefits. This will help you stay motivated and committed.
Photo courtesy of the author