In my last post, I tried to clear the cobwebs about common meditation myths. In this post, I’ll take you through a series of easy steps on how to get a meditation practice going without feeling like you’ll never get it right.
- Start with an intention. Whether it’s meditation or running a 5k it always helps to get clear about your Why. Why do you want to meditate? Why now? What are you hoping to achieve? This will take you to intention. Your intention is a simple phrase that feels right in your heart. I intend to experience peace; My intention is to bring more calm into my life; I wish to connect with my divine nature. These are all examples of intentions. Close your eyes and ask your heart what it needs, and you’ll receive your intention statement.
- Create sacred space. When I show up at my work desk every morning, my brain knows it’s time to put on my thinking cap. I take my holy work seriously and have created a particular space for it. Same with meditation. No matter what kind of space works for you, it’s better to have a little corner which is your personal meditation retreat. A bedroom, study, den, patio, garden…pick any place that feels right to you.
- Pick a mantra. Mantras also have the power to evoke holiness. A mantra also helps anchor your focus. This is especially useful if you’re a beginner to the practice. You could work with the simple but powerful Om. Or a verse from the Bible like Be still and know that I’m God or a Vedic mantra like Om Namah Shivaya.
- Pick a time. Just like you pick a time of day to exercise, it helps to schedule your meditation practice. In the busy times we live in, life gets away from us if we’re not being intentional about where we choose to invest our time. As a beginner, see if a morning or evening practice works best for you. Start with 3-5 minutes a day. Gradually work your way up as your focus improves.
- Show up. Whether you choose to sit cross-legged on a cushion or lie down on a yoga mat, simply commit to showing up. Every singe day. Showing up is the first step in commitment. Detach from the outcome. Just show up and be there for your daily practice.
- Breathe. The first step in meditation is to simply close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Focus on the air entering and leaving your body. Don’t force the breath; simply follow it. It helps to focus on any one body part that works for you: nostrils, rib cage or belly. It will help you feel the air coming in and going out.
- Let go. It is our judgment about any experience that gets in the way of our enjoying it. Stop thinking about whether you’re meditating right. Like anything else in life, it takes practice. Practice doesn’t guarantee perfection either. Every session is different. It’s a great way to practice acceptance of what is. Thoughts will come and go. Just don’t follow the trail of the thought. Come back to your breath. For example, you may suddenly have a thought like Is there enough milk in the frig? If you follow the thought it will look like this: Oh, I better remember to stop on the way home from picking up Emma. That reminds me, Emma needs a pair of gym shoes. I think I have a discount coupon from the store in the mall…See what I mean? Instead, see if you can stop with Is there milk in the frig?, recognize that you’ve abandoned your breath, and return to it.
- Journal. After a meditation session, even if it’s only 2 minutes, write down a phrase or two in your journal about your experience. Your entry could be as short as Felt calm or Mind was very busy. As you record these entries, you’ll begin to see a pattern of how meditation is impacting your well-being. Like with anything else in life, a review helps and keeps you motivated to stay on track.
What’s your biggest challenge with starting a meditation practice? Post your comments below.