We’ve been told over and over again about the incredible benefits of meditation. And likely, for a good reason: people all over the world promote the positive changes they’ve seen in their moods, sleep patterns, stress levels, and everyday activities since the implementation of a steady meditation practice.
While we all know how great it is, we can also feel at a loss when it comes to actually beginning. How do you do it? What’s a “good” meditation? How will you know if it works? It can be overwhelming, but we promise, it’s rewarding. Read on below for a quick roadmap on how to pave the way to your own meditation practice!
STEP 1: FIND YOUR SPOT
A cherished spot always works best when starting a meditation practice. A quiet, dimly lit area can be dreamy and soothing. The goal is to find a place where you feel at ease––this can be outside in nature, inside in front of a sunny window, or in the quiet of the locked bathroom. The choices are personal and endless!
While traditional meditation is done seated, there is no reason you can't also practice meditation while lying on your back. Both postures allow your breath to circulate properly.
STEP 2: SET A TIME LIMIT
Starting the practice with a set time limit can help keep you motivated and on track. If you know a gentle alarm will tell you when time is up, you may be able to find yourself better disconnected from your to-do’s of the day. It’s a good idea to start in small increments of 5 minutes and build your way up, in order not to get discouraged.
STEP 3: AWARENESS
Once you are seated and ready to go, essentially, it’s incredibly simple. You can softly close your eyes (though not necessarily obligatory!) and start to bring awareness to your body. The best place to start is to take long, elongated inhales of about 4 seconds and exhales that are twice as long. This helps bring your focus to one thing: your breathing.
The slower you breathe, you will find your body starting to relax. From here, bring awareness to your full body by doing a quick body scan. Are your shoulders tense? Are you clenching your jaw? Go through your entire body and start to unwind each little tension as you continue your slowed, deep breathing.
STEP 4: ACCEPT YOUR THOUGHTS
As you settle into your meditative state, no matter how long, you may start to notice your thoughts are all over the place. Contrary to popular belief, this is normal and totally OK! Your mind will wander, and all you need to do is notice and acknowledge it. When you do catch yourself slipping away from the focus of your breath, be kind to your wandering mind and recenter by focusing on your breathing or the relaxed sensations in your muscles.
At its core, meditation is about the quality of being present. Free from distraction or judgment and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. By doing these short, interval meditative “trainings”, you build the skill of mindfulness so that you can then apply it to everyday life.
Meditation won’t necessarily melt away stress or other difficulties. Instead, by becoming aware of unpleasant thoughts and emotions that arise because of these, we become better at choosing how we will react. And that, right there, is a successful meditation.
On that note, until next time––give love to the body, mind, and soul you are in!
The BSE Team