Everything you need to know to get started with meditation
Meditation is a simple practice, but one that could seem overwhelming to someone who has never tried it before. To some, even the idea of sitting still is enough to shy away from meditating. With so many forms and formats available, it can get confusing as to where to begin and how.
To put it simply, meditation is about being in the here and now. Most of the time, our minds are wandering. We are either lingering in the past or worrying about the future. Meditation brings us into the present moment. Our point of power is in the present, meaning if we centre ourselves in the now, we become present and are not distracted by our mind chatter. We’re able to respond better and make better decisions.
The goal of meditation isn’t to stop thinking, rather to pay attention to our physical sensations, thoughts and emotions so that we can see them with clarity, dropping judgment and assumptions. We lower our stress levels, get to know and face our pain, connect better with ourselves and the world around us, improve our focus. We have far greater power to influence ourselves for good or bad than anyone or anything outside of us. And when we win the inner game, the outside takes care of itself. Meditation helps us to build this muscle.
Here are a few things you should know before you get started with meditation:
1. Yes, you too can meditate
We’ve all been there, thinking, “I can never sit still. I’m not good at meditating. I can’t stop my thoughts.” So here’s the truth — anyone can meditate. You just have to keep an open mind and drop the judgement of yourself and the outcome. Allow yourself to flow with the new practice, and enjoy the trials and errors.
2. It’s okay to fumble
Any new practice will make you wonder if you’re doing it right. You will fall off, feel uncomfortable and think of going right back into your comfort zone (of not meditating). Tide over this, and get back on the real reason why you want to meditate.
If you fall asleep while trying to meditate, maybe your body needed that rest. If you are too alert and stimulated, you could start with calming your breath. Explore the journey for yourself and be ready to change your strategy to figure out what works best for you. Get a professional teacher or use meditation apps for help.
3. Be consistent
If you are keen to enjoy the benefits of meditation, then be willing to make space for it in your life. Keep those few minutes aside every morning as you wake up and every night as you go to bed. Be consistent with your practice, even if it is just 2-3 minutes a day to start with. Every time you sit to practice, it will be a new and different experience, so play with it, enjoy it, welcome it!
Also, you could start off with one-minute breath.
Our breath, called Pranayama in Sanskrit, literally translates to life force (prana) and control (yama), so with breath work, we control our life force, thus it becomes our greatest tool for changing our energy. When you feel anxious, afraid, overwhelmed or angry, try to change your breathing pattern, breathe slower and deeper and see your energy shift! Sometimes, all you need is a minute.
Here’s how to do the one-minute breath. You can practice it right now, wherever you are.
Firstly sit in a comfortable position with your back erect, shoulders relaxed. Then, for one minute (you can set a timer), follow this breathing technique:
• Breathe in your nostrils for five seconds
• Hold your breath for five seconds (without tensing your shoulders)
• Breathe out through your mouth for five seconds
Practice this technique for one minute a day at least. Use it to quieten your mind, calm your energy and come back to centre faster. And you know what? You’re already meditating.