If you're new to meditation, then you might feel overwhelmed when trying to keep so many instructions in your head: watch your breathing, calm your mind, keep your back straight...
To take the pressure off and allow your practice to unfold more naturally, here are 20 priceless tips to help you get started. As you practice more, you'll develop a routine and get more used to these concepts. As a guiding principle, whatever happens during your meditation session is okay. Meet your experience with kindness and gratitude, and your meditation session will be well worth it, no matter what happens.
1. Begin With Quick 5-Minute Sessions
It's easy for beginners to get overwhelmed when trying to sustain a 20-minute-meditation. That can feel brutal in the beginning. Start out nice and easy. Begin with 5-minute sessions, and when you're ready for more, move it up to 10 minutes.
2. Stretch or Do Yoga First
By stretching or doing yoga before you start meditating, you'll prepare your body to sit in one position for a long time. Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. Even just rolling your neck and stretching your back beforehand can help you stay comfortable for longer.
3. Try Out a Guided Meditation
For a fun experience and to have someone guide you through your meditation, try out a guided meditation. You can find free guided meditations available on YouTube and other platforms. You might find it easier when you follow someone else's instructions.
4. Set Your Timer
When you set a timer for your meditation, you don't have to keep checking the clock. This removes a big distraction from your practice. Moreover, you won't be sitting in meditation all day because you've forgotten to see how much time has elapsed. Set your timer so you can relax and enjoy your experience.
5. Remove Distractions
Turn off your cell phone, put it on vibrate, or leave it in the other room. You want to be in a space without distractions. I find that the best place to meditate is in my room with the door closed.
6. Don't Try Too Hard
Meditation at its best is soothing, relaxing, and effortless. It's merely observation; observing your breathing with your conscious awareness. So there is no real effort involved, just being consciously aware. So don't work too hard at it.
7. Create a Daily Practice or Ritual
By meditating every day at the same time or within the same daily routine, you develop a habit that becomes easier to practice every day. If you don't build meditation into your daily routine, you'll find yourself forgetting to do it.
8. Get Relaxed Beforehand
You want to wear comfortable, loose clothing and be in a relaxing environment. Make sure your room is comfortable. Before you start, take a few deliberate deep breaths and stretch any part of your body that feels tense or achy.
9. Try Out Different Types of Meditation
There are dozens of techniques to meditate, such as Zen meditation, chanting meditations, mantras, and so on. Try out different types to see which one feels right for you.
10. Read "The Power of Now"
This epic book by Eckhart Tolle sheds new light on what it really means to be present. And meditation is simply the practice of being present. To me personally, "The Power of Now" is like the bible of true meditation and mindfulness.
11. Let Go of Expectations
Don't expect enlightenment. Meditation is about noticing and observing your own sensations, thoughts, and feelings. By just allowing your experience of meditation to unfold in any way that it does, you'll get the best experience.
12. Stay Nonjudgmental
By simply noticing things as they are -- without judging them -- you are being mindful. When you notice your mind labelling, commenting, and making opinions about things, you're judging. And that's okay when you judge too. Just notice that, and let it go.
13. Have Fun with Your Practice
Allow yourself to really enjoy your meditation session. View your repetitive or silly thoughts with humor. Laugh at your "monkey mind" as it keeps churning. Have fun with it!
14. Your Mind Will Quiet Itself
Don't try to force your mind to stop thinking; that'll create distress. It will stop thinking all on its own when you practice your technique, whether it's observing your breathing or repeating a mantra.
15. Your Mind Will Wander
It's okay when your mind wanders, that's just what minds do! Just notice that your mind has wandered, and gently -- with compassion -- return your attention to your technique (observing your breathing). Don't beat yourself up, it's normal.
16. Find a Comfortable Posture
There are no rules that you have to sit in the lotus position. As long as I'm not feeling sleepy, I prefer to lay down. Find a position that works well for you, whether it's sitting on a chair, cushion, or bench.
17. Your Eyes Can Be Open Or Closed
Do what feels right for you. If you keep your eyes open, you might see visual distractions. If you close your eyes, it may feel forced and unnatural while you're awake. So do what works for you.
18. Get Up Slowly
After you finish your practice, take your time getting up. Don't rush off to the rest of your day, as you want to stay mindful and bring your meditative state into the rest of your day's activities.
19. Meditate With Others
Whether it's with friends, family members, your partner, a coach, or an organization, by meditating in a group it'll help you stay committed to the practice. Moreover, you can share your experiences afterwards. You might be surprised to hear how different their experience was.
20. Observe the Feeling Within Your Body
Notice how you feel internally, within your body. What sensations are there in your legs? Do you feel your toes and calves? Notice your diaphragm moving as you breath. This will keep you connected to your body.
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