The most frequently asked question I receive regarding meditation is “Where do I begin?” Look no further my friend! This post has your answer!
Find Your Why
First and foremost- Why are you meditating? Having an idea of why is paramount, it gives you a foundation to build your practice off of. If you are meditating for the health benefits, great! You can then read books and purchase material related to that goal. If you are meditating for the experience , fantastic! You can find the material suited towards the goal. Quick side note regarding the last sentence – The mind blowing, out of this world experiences are one of people’s greatest curiosities when it comes to meditation. We have an innate thirst to experience the paranormal, yet we keep this desire hid deep down. We all have the primal notion to ‘fit in’, so we worry that talking of such things would banish us as ‘weirdos’ or ‘heathens’, the truth of the matter is, we all wish to experience the extraordinary, so why not open up discussion of this? I promise you this – you WILL experience extraordinary experiences with meditation, what is required is a desire to do such and patience. Practice practice practice!
Find Your Space
The next step is Finding your Space. Now, an entire portion of this website is dedicated to Your Space, so I could spend an eternity talking about the importance of this. For now, we will keep it brief. Find somewhere quiet; especially when you are starting out, finding a quiet, cool space will be extremely important. The less distractions the better, so leave the phone outside! Now, we all have the innate ability to feel a space. You know that feeling when you walk through a creepy neighborhood, or the warm, cozy feeling of grandmas house? That’s what I’m talking about. Space is charged with energies, some good some bad. Use that ‘feeling’ to choose a spot that feels good. It doesn’t matter how unsure you are about your ability to do this, just find a spot that “feels right”.
Set Your Time
Great! We have the why and the where, now lets Set a Schedule . This step is the make or break it portion, you have to be realistic when just beginning. We all have the awe factor of the monks who meditate for years in a cave. Well guess what, they had to start somewhere, and so do you! My recommendation? Start small! 5 minutes a day. Figure out where and when you can fit this in, and do it religiously. Patience and persistence is the name of the game, so making this a daily habit will set the foundation for a solid practice. Now, don’t fret if you can’t stick to meditating at the same tome each day. I highly recommend it, but if you just can’t make that work then make it a point to get your 5 minutes in somewhere. Once you are comfortable with the 5 minutes, slowly increase the time. I suggest getting a minimum of 20 minutes in a day, with that being said, if 5 minutes is all you can spare, you will still grow!
Take a Seat
Alright! Making progress! You know why you are doing this, where you are doing this, and for how long you are doing this. Now, let’s Take a Seat. I recommend sitting on the floor, with your feet crossed. To start with, put a pillow or blanket under your butt to ease the tension on your lower back. You can meditate in a chair, but unless you have back problems or knee issues, I suggest starting on the floor. Posture is extremely important, expect a follow up article within a few days to expand further, but for now focus on sitting up straight , shoulders back, spine in line with chin slightly dipped, and hands in a position of comfort. Where should my hands be? We all have seen different variations of hand placement (mudras), but that is beyond our scope for the time being. I suggest placing your hands on your knees, palms up, with hands open and relaxed.
Close Your Eyes! There are different schools of thought when it comes to open vs closed eyes, but I believe starting with your eyes closed is the most beneficial. The number one thing we are trying to eradicate right now is distraction, so the less you see, the less you will be distracted.
Breath will guide you. As a basic rule of thumb, using your breath to monitor your state of consciousness will be an ability you will use throughout the rest of your life. Whether you are meditating or working in the office, keeping smooth, full inhalations will change your world. The vast majority of us are unaware of how we breathe, so just reading this paragraph is going to throw you for a tail spin. Work on taking a deep inhalation through your nose, down into your belly. Expand your belly outwards as you inhale, opposite of what we typically do. This is called diaphragmatic breathing, and it is a staple to expanded states of consciousness. Hold the breath momentarily, and let out a complete, smooth exhale through your mouth. When you first begin this, you may feel out of breath. Stick with it! Once you make this habit it will feel uncomfortable to go back to shallow breathing.
Here we are, sitting upright, eyes closed, taking deep breaths. Now what? Just Be. This will seem odd and uncomfortable at first. We live in a society that is used to constant stimulation, so sitting here doing nothing will feel very unnatural at first. Your mind will race, you’ll feel like you need to move around and adjust your position, but don’t! This is your monkey mind speaking, it’s lashing out while you are trying to cage it. You only have 5 minutes of this, my challenge to you is to sit for 5 minutes, eyes closed, deep breathing, and to not move a muscle. You can do it, and you will do it, but it will feel uncomfortable at first. Stick with it, this is the hard part.
Do not try to “Not Think”. This is the number one mistake that beginners make. We think of meditation as an action of ‘not thinking’, but this is incorrect. The harder you try to not have a thought, the more thoughts will come. The true meditation mindset is to let the thoughts come, and let the thoughts pass. Eventually, you will watch them come and go as if you were watching a car drive by, the goal is to try and not get hit by the car. For now, do your best to not go ‘down the thought rabbit hole’. As a thought arises, acknowledge it, and let it go.
- Find Your Why. Having a purpose to your meditation will carry you through the feelings of “I can’t do this”.
- Find Your Space and Set Your Time. (I suggest using a watch with a timer)
- Take a Seat, Close Your Eyes, and Breathe Deep.
- Just Be. This is your space, your time; relax into it.
Once you have accomplished a week of the above outlined, move onto the basic meditation exercises.
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