Meditation is a way in which we can take a few moments out of our busy lives, to sit and be still for a while. This can be a peaceful and pleasant time for those who have learnt to be with the ebb and flow of their own thoughts.
But for beginners or those who suffer from anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, it can be a time of great frustration. As a Meditation Gloucestershire professional, I help individuals who are looking for ways to bring meditation into their everyday lives in quick and simple steps.
4 Tips to Get Started with Meditation
When you first decide to take up meditation there are a number of things that you need to be aware of.
- Mediation is not about emptying your mind completely
- It might feel odd at first and your thoughts can start to run away with you
- It is not a quick fix and you need to practice regularly to get the most benefit
- Don’t start on a day when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed
When I first started meditating I made the mistake of picking a day when work had been hectic, everything felt like it had gone wrong and I knew my anxiety levels were high. Needless to say after a few minutes of sitting down to meditate I started to feel even more anxious and annoyed and then before I knew it a wave of anger and then tears came flooding over me.
This isn’t going to be the case for everyone, but from bitter experience, I know that the best time to start meditating is on a day when you feel relatively calm and when you have made time in your day for the practice. It is important that you don’t have any expectations as to what might happen during your first session, just let it play out naturally.
When Should You Meditate?
Meditation is often portrayed as this elusive activity that requires you to spend large amounts of time sitting in what looks like incredibly uncomfortable positions, whilst emptying your mind of every thought that it has. Whilst there are types of meditation such as transcendental that aim to reach that blissful nirvana of no thoughts, it is not the main aim of meditation for most.
The focus of the act of meditating is to simply be with your thoughts as they arrive, notice them but do not invest any energy or emotion in them, feel them arrive and notice them flow away. This doesn’t have to be done for hours on end. Simply begin with just 5-10 minutes a day where you sit, quietly in whatever position is comfortable for you and just notice your thoughts coming and going.
If you find that you start to struggle with your concentration in the afternoon slump period, take just a few moments to take a look out of your nearest window. Take a few breaths in and out and if you can close your eyes just for a few moments. Focus on your breathing and notice how you feel at this moment, sitting in your chair. Start to become aware of whether your shoulders are raised and your tongue lodged to the roof of your mouth.
Take a few more deep breaths, try to soften the tongue in your mouth and gently roll your shoulders back down to their natural position. This is a quick and effective way to bring meditation into your workday when you need it most.
Importance of Breath in Meditation
Our breath is a key component of meditation and is what we often focus on. This is to allow those thoughts that we noted above to simply be. Our mind is focused on the sensation of breathing, of feeling our bellies rising and falling, our rib cages expanding with every breath that we take. Taking a moment to notice the feelings of your breath can help to bring you back to the present moment and the world that surrounds you at this moment.
When we feel stressed and anxious or breathing starts to become shallower and we often breathe from our chests rather than our diaphragms. Taking some time out to focus on belly breathing can help to bring your stress and anxiety levels down. A great way to do this is to place your hand on your belly and notice how it rises and falls as you breathe. There are a number of ways that you can incorporate breath into your meditation and it is worth trying a few different techniques to help you find the ones that work best for you.
What are Guided Meditations
These types of meditations are great for beginners. They are based around stories that can help you to connect with your imagination or will take the breath and use it as a way in which to get you to connect with your body. Yoga Nidra and Body Scans fall into this type of meditation. They bring your attention to different parts of your body in turn, where you will notice where you are holding tension.
With your breath steady you will then focus on relaxing those areas, just a little at a time. It is surprising how relaxing this process is and how someone with a calm, peaceful tone can really help you to deepen your meditation practice.
There are a number of ways that you can use guided meditations and some of the most popular are just before sleep. Apps such as Insight Timer are a great way to get started with your meditation practice
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