Meditation has many benefits, relief from stress, anxiety and unnecessary thoughts being among them. If you want to get started in meditation, read this article to learn more about it.
Think about what you want to achieve with your meditation. People come to meditation for a wide range of reasons — whether to improve their creativity, help visualize a goal, quiet their inner chatter, or make a spiritual connection. If your only goal is to spend a few minutes every day being present in your body without worrying about everything you have to do, that’s reason enough to meditate. Try not to over-complicate your reasons for meditating. At its core, meditation is just about relaxing and refusing to be caught up in everyday anxieties.
Find a distraction-free area to meditate in. Especially when you’re just starting out, it’s important to clear your environment of distracting sensations. Turn off the TV and radio, close your windows against the street sounds
outside, and close your door to noisy roommates. If you share your home
with roommates or family members, you may find it difficult to find a
quiet space where you can focus on meditation. Ask the people you live
with if they would be willing to keep quiet for the duration of your
meditation exercise. Promise to come tell them as soon as you’re
finished, so they can resume their normal activities.
A scented candle, a bouquet of flowers, or incense can be great little touches to enhance your meditation experience.
Dim or turn out the lights to help you concentrate.
Use a meditation cushion. Meditation cushions are also known as zafus.
A zafu is a circular cushion that allows you to sit on the ground while
meditating. Because it does not have a back, as a chair does, it
doesn’t let you slump back and lose focus on your energy. If you don’t
have a zafu, any old pillow or sofa cushion will do to keep you from
getting sore during long stretches of cross-legged sitting.
If you find that sitting without a chair-back hurts your back, feel free to use a chair. Try to be present in your body and maintain a straight back for as long as it feels comfortable, then lean back until you feel you can do it again.
Wear comfortable clothes. You don’t want anything to pull you out of your meditative thinking, so avoid restrictive clothing that might pull on you, like jeans or tight pants. Think about what you might wear to exercise or to sleep in — those types of loose, breathable clothes are your best bet.
Choose a time when you’re comfortable. When you’re more familiar with meditation, you might use it to calm you down when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. But if you’re a beginner, you may find it hard to concentrate at first if you’re not in the right frame of mind. When you’re starting out, meditate when you already feel relaxed — perhaps first thing in the morning, or after you’ve had to unwind after school or work.
Remove every distraction you can think of before you sit down to meditate. Grab a light snack if you’re feeling hungry, use the restroom if you need to, and so on.
Have a timer at hand. You want to ensure you practice
your meditation for long enough, but you also don’t want to break your
concentration by checking the time. Set a timer for the length of time
you wish to meditate — whether 10 minutes or an hour. Your phone may
have a built-in timer on it, or you can find many websites and apps that
will time your sessions for you.
Sit on your cushion or chair with a straight back. The upright posture helps you to concentrate on your breathing as you purposefully inhale and exhale. If you’re sitting in a chair with a back, try not to lean back against it or slouch. Stay as erect as possible.
Position your legs in whichever manner is comfortable to you. You can extend them out in front of you or cross them beneath you like a pretzel if you’re using a cushion on the ground. The most important thing is that your posture remains straight.
Don’t fret about what to do with your hands. In the
media, we often see people holding their hands at their knees when
meditating, but if that’s uncomfortable for you, don’t worry about it.
You can fold them in your lap, let them hang at your sides — whatever
allows you to clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing. Tilt your chin as though you’re looking downward. It
doesn’t matter if your eyes are opened or closed when you meditate,
though many people find it easier to block out visual distractions with
closed eyes. Either way, tilting your head as though you’re looking down
helps open up the chest and ease your breathing. Set your timer. When you’re in a comfortable position
and are ready to get started, set your timer for however long you’d
like to meditate. Don’t feel any pressure to reach an hour-long
transcendental state during your first week. Start small with 3-5 minute
sessions, and work your way up to half an hour, or even longer if you’d
like. Keep your mouth closed as you breathe. You should both inhale and exhale through your nose when meditating.
However, make sure your jaw muscles are relaxed, even though your mouth
is closed. Don’t clench your jaws or grind your teeth; simply relax.
Focus on your breathing. This is what meditation’s all about. Instead of trying not
to think about the things that might stress you out on a day-to-day
basis, give yourself something positive to focus on: your breath. By
focusing all of your concentrating on your inhalations and exhalations,
you’ll find that all other thoughts from the outside world fall away on
their own, without you having to worry about how to ignore them.
Concentrate on your breathing in the way that’s most comfortable for you. Some people like to focus on how the lungs expand and contract, while others like to think about how air passes through the nose when they breathe. You might even focus on the sound of your breathing. Just bring yourself to a state of mind where you’re solely focused on some aspect of your breath.