Meditation is something that we’re constantly being encouraged to use. Every self-help guru, every highly successful individual and even many athletes trumpet its many benefits and the research too seems to back-up its value.
So why don’t more people practice it?
The main problem for most of us is that it’s really rather daunting, obtuse and complicated. Meditation is ultimately about reaching enlightenment and an inner peace right? Sounds a bit heavy for a Friday evening!
The real question for many people then is where to start. This article will provide you with a good starting point and help you with your first meditative experience. From there, you should feel a little more confident to try it again in future…
Some Tips to Begin With
The first tip is to set yourself a timer for 10 minutes. 10 minutes is a short enough amount of time that most of us will be able to fit it into our busy schedules and by setting an alarm you prevent yourself from having to keep checking the clock to see how much longer you have – this is not conducive to meditation as you might imagine.
The next tip is to sit comfortably in a chair or cross legged. You don’t want to lie down for fear of falling asleep but you should be comfortable.
The next thing you’re going to do is to focus. This can mean focusing on your breath, or repeating a mantra (a word of your choice) over and over. This will be your ‘anchor’ and you will come back to this whenever your mind starts to wander.
If you struggle with these anchors, another option is to watch a flame. Lighting a candle and watching it can be a surprisingly effective form of meditation.
Now just ‘be’ for 10 minutes. The mistake many people make here is to try and force themselves to have a ‘still mind’ devoid of thoughts. This is almost impossible for a beginner and will lead to nothing but stress.
Instead, we’ll take the mindfulness approach of simply letting the mind wander. When it does, make a note of it and simply focus back on your anchor. This removes the stress and gives you a safe environment in which to practice directing your attention inwards. The same goes for itching and coughing – just let it happen and then return.
Try to repeat this three times a week for a couple of months and see what happens… You’ll be glad you did!