It may be time for you to begin meditating and experience its many benefits. However, you may not know how to begin meditating. There are so many different meditation techniques and traditions to try that it's natural to feel overwhelmed, confused, or even silly at first. There is no need to be intimidated by meditation. If you are new to meditation or haven't practiced in a while, here's everything you need to know.
It's perfectly normal for the mind to wander when we meditate. As the mind's nature is to think, it will think - meditation is not about stopping thoughts. To observe our own thinking without getting caught up in our thoughts and emotions, we sit and practice.
As we develop an awareness of those moments when our attention wanders, we can tame this restlessness. We build our awareness every time we notice we're distracted, and we return our attention to the breath. During meditation, the mind becomes more comfortable with sitting still, and we can learn to integrate into our daily lives the qualities we experience during meditation - calmness, focus, compassion, mindfulness.
Learning how to meditate is a fairly straightforward process, especially if you’re able to follow these simple steps:
01 Decide on a time and place that works for you
The easiest way to create a new habit is to do it at the same time and place every day. You should meditate whenever it is convenient for you: don't overthink it. Is there a best place to meditate? Whenever you feel comfortable and can be minimally distracted.
02 Decide on an amount of time to meditate
When you are just starting out, it's best to break your practice into manageable chunks - for example, 3 or 5 minute sessions - so that you can build up your practice over time.
03 Make sure you’re sitting comfortably
Place your feet flat on the floor, your legs uncrossed, and your hands on your lap or beside your side. Make sure your back is straight, but not too tense. The use of a small pillow or a rolled up towel can help you maintain a straight back if necessary.
04 Decide whether you want the meditation to be guided or unguided
In guided meditation, a teacher leads you through the process either in person or via audio or video. For people who are learning to meditate, guided meditation is recommended. It takes more practice at first to stay present in the now when practicing unguided meditations. Practice will, however, make it easier.
05 A meditation technique to get you started
When learning how to meditate, the body scan technique can be a great introduction. From head to toe, it performs mental scans to synchronize the body and mind.
06 Step by step
- Try to mentally go from the top of your head down your entire body while keeping your eyes closed.
- Observe which parts feel relaxed or tense, comfortable or uncomfortable, light or heavy.
- Make a mental picture of how your body feels now, in the present moment, by repeating the scan.
- Whenever thoughts arise, simply return to where you last left off.
How to make sure you continue meditating
The importance of showing up for meditation every day cannot be overstated. With so many distractions and competing priorities, how can you maintain a consistent practice? Meditating frequently is more important than meditating for a long time. In other words, meditating for 10 minutes a day, 7 days a week, is more beneficial than 70 minutes one day a week.