Meditation. What a walk in the park! All you do is simply sit in a peaceful spot for hours, completely still, doing nothing. Not even thinking. Easy as pie. Not exactly. once you arrive at the conclusion that you actually have no clue what you’re doing, the anxiety sets it.
It’s at that point that you might run to the TV and catch up on the latest episode of Riverdale. And thus your grand attempt to meditate is ruined and you probably won’t try it again for another six months. Well, it doesn’t have to be like that. Here are some simple techniques for beginners that will help you on your way to becoming the Zen master you always wanted to be.
You don’t need to meditate for hours. To be honest, it’s not even necessary to meditate for 20 minutes. For many beginners, not doing anything aside from sitting calmly with your thoughts can appear completely bizarre. For this reason, it’s important to abandon any kind of “go big or go home” thinking. As an alternative, try for smaller time segments until you gradually improve with time. Consider doing 3 -5 minutes of meditation.
You could use the app Headspace. If you’re planning to some solo action, doing just one minute of meditation would be ideal. Practice focusing on different areas of your body. In case you are someone who quickly loses focus and possesses a “restless” or anxious mind, you can try performing a body scan. Concentrating on the various sensations throughout your body from your head towards your toes can really aid in shifting the attention away from your personal thoughts. Count your breaths can also be very effective.
Do it while you’re drinking your morning coffee. Another technique is to transform meditation into something that seamlessly caters to your lifestyle: pair it with something that you do on a regular basis, such as drinking coffee for instance. The associative actions will help reinforce the habits. On top of that, starting your day with meditation (read: calmer, more centered) will change the tone of your day for the better.
Find a spot and just sit there for a while. It’s up to you to decide on whether you meditate on the floor, on a yoga mat, or even cross-legged beneath a tree like a monk – the only thing that you need to ensure is that you are positioned comfortably and maintain focused. After you succeed in finding the best spot, consider the place as your own primary area of Zen, so that your mind and body will begin associating it with meditation time.
However, if there are moments when you simply can’t meditate in your place of Zen, do not use this as a reason to avoid meditation altogether. Always bear in mind that you can perform meditation in practically any place, from your own room to the train, so it’s vital to be flexible as well.
Definitely, don’t force it. Remember those moments when you are doing your best to fall asleep, you find yourself failing to do so every single time? It is similar when it comes to meditation.
The creator of the Headspace App, Andy Puddicomb says that “when you try really hard to go to sleep, you only move further away from sleeping. So, if you try to make, say, relaxation happens when you meditate, you will get anxious and frustrated.” Practice makes perfect, and the more you try meditation the lesser you will feel obligated to force yourself to relax – it will simply occur naturally.
Don’t expect to completely clear your mind. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the art of meditation does not involve decluttering your mind or preventing your thought process. Your mind may become more relaxed during certain sessions than others. However, it’s important to accept one particular realty: it’s simply inevitable to have an occupied mind in some moments. Once you observe that your mind has started traveling into some place or moment (ahem, when that date you had last night just won’t stop entering your thoughts), never freak out or be too hard on yourself.
On the contrary, simply redirect your concentration back towards your present activity, whether it is breathing or body scan, or simply dial back to your guided meditation. Don’t necessarily search for silent spaces. Of course, meditating in a more peaceful location is generally better for newbies, but there are individuals who are in fact more suitable in meditating at spots in busy areas (e.g. waiting in queue at a coffee shop) – so never fear trying different things out to find out which once is more ideal for you.
Obviously, it would be easy to think that meditation is supposed to be conducted in a peaceful place, but that is not at all true. Puddicombe advocates for try to meditation in everyday places. The reason for this is because meditation mainly involves the things that are going on within you and not on the world outside.