These tips can help you get started with meditation and commit to continuing in the short term and the long term. Don’t feel like you need to utilize each of these tips at once, but revisit them as you continue to practice meditation and mindfulness.
- Start your day with two-minutes of meditation. As they say, walk before you run, or in this case, just sit. Start a new routine with just two minutes at the start of each day for a week. Increase by another two minutes and do that for another week. Every week, increase by a few more minutes and eventually your meditation time will be 10 minutes or more.
- Don’t get caught up in how to do it. Most people worry about where to sit, how to sit, what cushion to use … this is all nice, but it’s not that important to get started. Start just by sitting on a chair, or on your couch. Or on your bed. If you’re comfortable on the ground, sit cross-legged. It’s just for two minutes at first anyway, so just sit. Later you can worry about optimizing it so you’ll be comfortable for longer, but in the beginning it doesn’t matter much, just sit somewhere quiet and comfortable.
- Take note of how you’re feeling. As you begin to meditate, remember that its ok to bring your anxiety, fatigue or even illness to your meditation routine. It’s the authentic you at that moment.
- Count your breaths. Pay attention to your breathing patterns. Count “one” as you take in your first breath, then “two” as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10, then start over.
- Recognize Wandering. When you notice your mind wandering, simply refocus on your breathing. Count “one” again, and start over. Staying focused is a challenge for everyone, you just have to start again. You will get better at it.
- Don’t worry, you’re not doing it wrong. There’s no perfect way to meditate. Everyone who practices meditation is growing. You are growing, too! Just continue your good habits.
- Don’t worry about clearing the mind. Meditation is not about clearing your mind and stopping all thoughts. While degrees of this might happen, but it’s not the ultimate goal. When you have thoughts, that’s normal because that’s what the brain does. We can’t just shut them down. Instead of pursing “clearing the mind”, practice focusing your attention, especially when your mind begins to wander.
- Stay with what thoughts come to mind. When thoughts or feelings arise, try staying with them awhile. After you have had practice for about a week, you might also try staying with a thought or feeling that arises. An amazingly useful meditation practice is to stay with the feeling for awhile. Just stay, and be curious.
- Get to know yourself. Learn how your mind works. By watching how your mind wanders, by how you get frustrated or emotional … you can begin to better understand yourself.
- Don’t be self-critical. As you begin to know yourself, do it with kindness instead of criticism. This is the time to see yourself as a friend and to love yourself.
- How does your body feel. One you are more experienced at following your breath, you can now focus your attention on different parts of your body. How do your feet feel? Your knees? Your hands? Your back?
- Notice the external elements. After you’ve practiced with your breath for at least a week, you can now focus on the light around you. Keep your eyes on one spot, and take note of the light or sounds like chirping birds.
- Stay committed. Make the choice to really commit yourself to meditation. Decide to be committed for a least a month.
- You can meditate anywhere. You can meditate in your home, office and even the outdoors. Sitting meditation is the best place to start, but in truth, you’re practicing for this kind of mindfulness in your entire life.
- Meditate with friends. While some may prefer meditating alone, you can do it with your spouse or child or a friend. It may also help you to commit to it longer.
- Smile when you’re done. When you’re finished with your two minutes, be grateful that you had this time to yourself. That’s an amazing two minutes of your life.
Meditation isn’t always easy but its benefits can be extraordinary. Start today, commit for the short term and then the long term, and for the rest of your life.
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