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I’ve been wanting to write an article on how to start meditating, and since I live in a rather spiritually-minded city, I decided to go around and ask the public what their thoughts were on meditation.
The result: Everyone had something (nearly completely) different to say.
Some said that meditation was thinking deeply, as others said that meditation was not thinking at all. Some people said that they meditated by sitting crisscross applesauce in a quiet room, while others found meditation in the form of surfing, or painting.
The conclusion: Everyone has a different form of meditation that works for them; there is no right or wrong way to meditate.
I think a lot of people are intimidated to start meditating because for the most part, we’ve overcomplicated it. When it comes to meditation, there should be no rules, and a lot of room for experimentation.
In reality, anything can be a meditation. For example, I used to have to drive an hour to work, and I used that time to listen to my favorite podcasts. The podcasts I listened to were so mentally stimulating and excited me so much, I felt elevated. I would be brought to a higher form of thinking, and I would be so wrapped up in what they were saying, that I wasn’t thinking about all the little things one usually thinks about while driving to work.
In a more interesting example, I once heard an MMA fighter talking about how his art was really quite meditative. Since I tend to think of MMA fighting as the opposite, I was very open to hear his explanation.
He said that when he is pinned down by someone, and he can hardly breathe and begins to feel dizzy, he must fight for his life. In that moment, when he is thinking about only life and death – all of those small, simple things in his life that he stresses about everyday no longer matter. It simplifies everything for him.
Benefits Of Meditation
Having said that, there seems to be a few things that all of these different types of meditation have in common: their benefits.
- Meditation calms the mind and the body
- Helps to recharge energy
- Works to get the blood flowing in your brain
- It’s been said that when you meditate, you require less sleep
- Makes you age slower
- Helps with productivity
- Helps you finally step away from mental blocks, giving them room to sort themselves out
All in all, there are no rules for, nor a firm definition of meditation. If you are already doing something like this, perhaps try doing it with more intention. For instance, if you feel meditative while drawing, try drawing daily as a meditative practice.
Tips For How To Start Meditating
In case you are looking to try a different method, to experiment with something new, or to try and start meditating altogether, I have a explored a few of the most common practices among people who meditate. But remember, there is no right or wrong way to this!
- Start small: Just a few minutes every day is much more effective than a few hours once a week. When you first start out meditating, try to meditate frequently, just a few minutes at first, then gradually add more time onto your meditation.
- Use a Timer: Having a timer helps the mind not think about time. You can use any basic timer, but there are many really helpful phone apps you can download, such as “Insight Timer,” which are geared towards meditating.
- Find a happy, quiet place: The less distractions, the better. The more clear your mind can feel, the more productive your meditation will be. Also, meditating somewhere you feel good and comfortable helps tremendously.
- Set an intention: It can be helpful to think about what you are wanting to gain from the meditation before you start. Your intentions can range anywhere from gaining more creativity, being more present, visualizing a goal, or even just to quiet mental noise.
- Focus on your breath: By focusing on your breath, you can easily begin to feel your mind clear up, and yourself being more in the present moment. You can focus on your breath in many different ways. By feeling the expansion of your lungs, by getting caught up in the rhythm, by feeling the air pass through your nose, or by just the sound of breathing.
- You’re not doing it wrong: When they first begin meditating, many people spend a lot of their meditation time worrying about whether or not they are doing it right, don’t worry! Don’t think about the “how’s,” just do!
- Be mindful of how you are feeling: How are you? See if you are feeling anything in particular: anxious, excited, worried, stressed, calm, or busy. Look at that feeling, feel it, and be okay with it. Pay attention to it. We so often times get caught up in our daily lives that we don’t give our own emotions the time of day. Understand what emotion you are bringing to meditation, and be at peace with it.
- Do not judge your thoughts and feelings: Likewise, be a peace with all of the different thoughts and feelings that arise while you are meditating. As in, don’t judge them as good or bad thoughts, right or wrong thoughts, simply just notice them, and let them pass by.
- Get to know your mind: We are often too busy with distractions to pay much attention to our own thoughts, nonetheless how we process them. By giving your mind and your thought processes the attention they deserve, you can get to know yourself much better.
- Count your breath: If you find that your mind keeps wandering and you can’t seem to focus, try simply counting your breaths. Try counting only until 5, then start again. This will help to calm and slow you down.
- Try a guided meditation: There are many guided meditations online, or even guided meditation apps you can download. These help guide you through the process. They create a calm and tranquil environment in your mind, and give you suggestion on where to put your focus.
- Join a friend or a community: Meditating with a friend, or even a meditation community, can be a powerful experience. First, since you are not the only one meditating, it holds you accountable for your meditation. Secondly, the energy a group of people meditating in a room creates can be really motivating. Also, it is good to have support from people who have experience, or are also interested in meditating.
- Give yourself a high five: When you are finished, be grateful and appreciative towards yourself for having meditated and for sticking with your commitment to it. You are doing something immensely great for yourself, and getting to know yourself fully.
Sogyla Rinpoche once said, “Just as the ocean has waves or the sun has rays, so the mind’s own radiance is it’s thoughts and emotions.” It is so important that we find a way, any way, to get to know our minds own radiance.
Whether you get lost in your own technique, learn a new one, or experiment by combining a few, start meditating to recharge your energy, free your mind, and get to know yourself.
[Photo Credit: Sam Ferrara]