Meditation has many benefits, relief from stress, anxiety and depression being among them. It is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
Preparing for Meditation
People meditate for several different reasons. Some meditate to improve their creativity, help visualize goals, quiet their inner thoughts or make some sort of spiritual connection. Others just want to meditate to be present in their body without worrying about everything they have to do or whatever is causing them stress.
Before you begin to meditate, it is important to think about why you want to meditate in the first place. Be sure not over think this process for you may end up defeating the purpose if your reasoning is to meditate to relieve stress.
You may want to choose what meditation technique you want to opt in for to ensure that you are meeting your goals. If you are a beginner, you may want to opt in for guided meditation.
Having a trusted and experienced teacher to guide you through the basic steps can be key to getting the most out of your experience. It also allows you to get your body and mind use to getting into a meditative state.
Find a Distraction Free Area
If you’re a beginner, it may be hard at first to focus and get into a meditative state. It’s best if you turn off all electronics- or at least put them on vibrate or silent. If you have windows open close them to help you avoid outside distractions. If you don’t live alone, close your door and nicely ask people to keep their volume level down while you meditate. If you would like, you can also dim the lights.
Setting an Atmosphere
Some people find that using aromatherapy can help you calm down and relax before you meditate. Lighting candles, warming wax cubes, lighting incense or spraying the room with relaxing fragrances can help. Use an essential oil diffuser to diffuse essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, myrrh, or frankincense into the air.
If you tend on meditating on a regular basis, you may want to set up a little sanctuary in a certain room or area to help you stay focused. Add plants, use healing stones or mala beads to help you focus your energy.
When meditating, it is important to sit or lay comfortably. You don’t want to distract your mind from being uncomfortable or in pain. You want your focus to remain strictly on your thoughts, breathing and the reason you are meditating in the first place.
Zafus are meditation cushions that allow you to sit on the ground while meditating. They don’t have a back, but it allows you to sit up without slouching or slumping which can cause to lose focus on your energy. They also help you to not become sore during long stretches of crossed legs- if that’s how you prefer to sit- or from having a sore ass from sitting on a hard floor. You can use couch pillows as well.
If you prefer not to sit on the floor or are not able to due to medical conditions, you can opt to sit in a comfortable chair with or without some sort of back support, or lay on your bed in a comfortable position. The most important thing here is to try to be present in your body and maintain as straight back for as long as it feels comfortable.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Similar to being in a comfortable seated position, it is also important to wear comfortable, non-restrictive and breathable clothing. Tight or uncomfortable clothes might pull you out of your meditative state, for you will be thinking about being uncomfortable instead of focusing on meditating.
Wear loose fitting clothing that allows body movement. Big t-shirts, sweatpants or pajamas can often times work.
Choose a Time That Works for You
When beginning meditation, choose a time when you already feel relaxed. This could be right before bed or in the morning before going on about your day. Once you become familiar with meditation, you can begin to incorporate it into your daily or weekly schedule.
Don’t forget to remove any distractions, eat a light snack and even go to the bathroom before your practice.
Meditate Long Enough
You want to ensure that you are meditating long enough to get the best results to reach your goals. As a beginner, try meditating for 5-10 minutes. As you become use to meditation, you can increase the length of time you meditate. The time can be whatever you are comfortable with whether it is 15 minutes or an hour.
If your time is limited, set an alarm or timer of the length of time you want to meditate for. Do this so that you aren’t constantly looking at the time during your meditation, which can break you out of your meditative state.
If you don’t want to use alarms, find soothing music or guided meditation sessions to play to a certain amount of time. When the track ends, you know that your time for meditation has ended as well.
Now you have everything you need and you are distraction free and ready to meditate.
Sit on your cushion, chair. Sit in an upright position which will help you 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 a comfortable position. You can extend or cross them beneath you like a pretzel if you are using a zafu or a cushion.
Set Your Timer
Once you are seated and are comfortable, you can set your timer for the length of time you want to meditate for. If you are just starting out, you may want to have short sessions lasting 3-5 minutes. You can gradually work yourself up to a half hour and even an hour.
If you have opted to listen to soothing music, or guided meditation, now would be the time to play the track(s).
If you are familiar with mudras, then you can use them. Mudras are hand positions that help focus energy as you meditate. You can fold your hands in your lap or rest them at your sides. Do what makes you comfortable and allows you to clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing.
Having great posture is important to for the flow of energy. Great posture includes the positioning of your head. Tilt your chin like you are looking down. When your chin is down in this position, it helps open the chest and ease breathing.
You can meditate with your eyes open or with them closed. If you are a beginner, meditate with your eyes closed to reduce the amount of distractions you may encounter. Having your eyes closed may also help you envision your goals you want to achieve.
Keep Your Mouth Closed as You Breathe
During meditation, it is important to be in control of your breathing. You want to inhale and exhale through your nose slowly and controllably. Ensure that the muscles in your jaws are relaxed when your mouth is closed.
Focus on Your Breath
Keeping a steady focus on your breath is essentially what meditation is about. Instead of thinking about the stress you endured throughout the day, think of something positive- your breath. Take deep, relaxed breaths. Imagine intaking positivity and with each exhale, you are releasing all the negative energy.
You can think about how your lungs expand and contract with each breath you draw in and release. You can focus on how the air passes through your nose. Or, you can focus on the sound of your breath as you inhale and exhale. Focus on what is most comfortable to you.
As you go deeper into a meditative state, you will find that other thoughts disappear on their own.
Observe the Breath, Don’t over Analyze It
The goal here is to not think too hard on “Am I breathing correctly?”. The goal is to just be present in the here and now and not try to describe it. Don’t try to remember what you’re feeling or being able to explain it, just… Be.
If the Mind Wanders
When meditating, you may find from time to time, your mind wandering about different, negative things you may be worried about (bills that need to be paid, issues at work or with love life, ect.). If the thoughts are positive or creative, I often let my mind wander on about that.
If you do find your mind wandering, try counting and focusing back on your breaths. If you are listening to guided meditation, focus back on the narrator’s voice. If you are listening to music, focus on the rhythm and the notes and the feeling it brings to you.
Don’t be Hard on Yourself
It is important to note that when first starting out, focus will be hard for you and you should accept that. Understand that meditation is a practice and you will only get better over time. Don’t expect that meditation will change your life overnight.
If you meditate every day or on a regular basis, you will be able to enter and stay in a meditative state longer, even if there are distractions present. So, if you don’t get it on the first few tries, it is OK. Don’t stress out about it and don’t give up. All things in life take time, and meditation is one of them.
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. Self Verve is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. Be sure to contact your physician before trying any of the items stated in the above article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Self Verve does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
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