A Beginner's Guide to Meditation
By: Fola Onifade
By: Fola Onifade
By now, someone you know has mentioned the life-changing effects they’ve experienced from meditation. The results may sound interesting to you, but you might still be wondering: how do you even meditate? If you’ve got 100 things you could be doing, it can be difficult to rationalize spending precious moments sitting doing nothing.
There are a lot of reasons people choose to begin a meditation practice. For some, meditation benefits include less feelings of stress or better ability to focus. Maybe you've heard it helps with pain and anxiety, or your perhaps your friends share meditation quotes that inspire you.
Whatever the reason, meditation teaches us awareness and this important lesson has ripple effects throughout every facet of our lives. So, how do you do learn this magic trick / superpower thing?
Start With Sitting Still
The basic tenet (and hardest part for most of us) of meditation is to just sit. Meditation is a search for stillness.
Many people close their eyes, but you don’t have to; you just need to set your attention on something that won’t distract you. We practice stillness by centering our focus in the present moment, and there are many ways to do this.
One way is to focus on your breath: the inhale and the exhale. If that’s not your cup of tea, try a body scan, where you pay attention from head to toe to the sensations you feel in your body.
Another approach you can take — especially if you’re in a place where you can’t easily access a quiet space — is tuning in to the sounds around you. Make note of what you hear and focus exclusively on those sounds to help ground yourself in the present.
Let Your Mind Do What It Does
As you can see, meditation is simply the process of becoming aware of what’s happening either inside you or around you.
While trying to do this, obstacles will arise. You may get bored, sleepy, or distracted. You may even feel anxiety, fear, general resistance or overwhelmed.
That’s OK, any and all of those feelings are natural. The mind is used to going at 100 mph, and it takes time to train it to do nothing.
As feelings or thoughts arise while you meditate, notice them and be aware of them.
Then let them gently float away, like a cloud drifting by in the sky. Some days will be better than others. Some days, your mind will be still and quiet, and other days you’ll struggle to rein it in.
Grow Awareness Each Time You Return
Remember that there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” meditation, there’s just awareness and non-awareness. Every time you notice your thoughts have drifted off, you sharpen your awareness. Like physical exercise, the more reps you get at this, the more power and control you gain over your mind.
Meditation won’t solve all your problems or transform you into a mind-bending guru. Most of the time, you won’t even notice its subtle benefits until you’re faced with a situation that you handle in a new way that may surprise you.
Resources to Build Your Practice
So give it a try today. If you can, find a comfortable place where you can relax. Start with 1 or 2 minutes and work your way up to 10. Practice doing nothing. No phone, no TV, no distractions, unless you're trying a guided meditation for assistance.
Check out some of the apps above that we recommend as you begin your mindfulness journey.
Remember to be patient and kind with yourself during this time. Wishing you peace as you and your mind getting reacquainted