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“Cool, but how do I actually meditate?”
That’s the number one question I get when I tell people about our meditation cushions.
I get it. It’s pretty hard to ignore all the powerful reasons to meditate. You’ve heard the science. You know that there must be something to this. But it still seems so far away. “Meditation isn’t for me…it’s too hard…I think too much…I don’t have the patience.”
Spoiler: It is for you. And it’s actually pretty easy!
Don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time to learn a new skill, and trust me, this one’s worth it. You don’t need anything to start and you don’t have to believe in anything.
All you need are a few simple instructions. Ready?
1. The do-it-yourself method
The most popular meditation technique is called MINDFULNESS OF BREATHING. It’s super simple and whether you are a complete newbie or a seasoned master the rules are the same.
Step 1: SIT with an upright spine.
Step 2: CLOSE your eyes.
Step 3: RELAX. Let your breathing become natural.
Step 4: FOCUS your attention on your breath.
Step 5: NOTICE when your attention wanders.
Step 6: LET GO of the distraction.
Step 7: RETURN to the breath.
Step 8: REPEAT steps 5-7.
And that’s all there is to it!
But, I know it can be tricky at first. You’ll find yourself lost in a daydream, planning your weekend, worrying if you’re doing it right…remember, this is all completely normal. Right now your mind is like a hyperactive monkey on steroids but we’re here to teach it a new skill.
No matter how long you’re lost in thought, the moment you NOTICE the distraction, simply LET GO and RETURN. When you get confused come back to the basics.
You’re almost good to go.
We just need to decide how long you’re going to meditate. I always recommend starting small. 5 to 10 minutes a day is a great start. Increase the time as you get more comfortable. Always set a timer. That way you can forget about the clock and focus on your meditation.
The small print
- Notice the breath where you feel it the strongest. It’s usually the edge of the nostrils or the rise and fall of your belly. Pick one and stick with it.
- Watch the breath without judgement. Just be present. Don’t analyse it.
- A distraction is anything that takes your attention away from your breath. It could be a thought, a feeling, an itch, boredom, discomfort…anything!
2. There’s an app for that
Learning to meditate as a beginner can seem scary at first. You might feel overwhelmed or have doubts: “am i doing it properly…this doesn’t feel right…i can’t stop thinking”
You’re not alone. Every beginner meditator goes through it. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone if you prefer more guidance. And thanks to the era of smartphones help is literally at your fingertips!
There are apps that use guided meditations to give you step by step instructions. They talk you through each session and teach you how to meditate in real time. All you need to do is download the app, find a quiet spot and press play. It really is that easy to start meditating right now!
The market leaders in meditation apps are HEADSPACE and CALM and I can see why. They are fantastic apps and will kickstart your meditation practice. With free trial periods you can test drive them both and decide which one you prefer.
If you haven’t heard of Headspace yet…well, where have you been?! This app has exploded in popularity and for good reason. It’s well designed with cute illustrations and animations. It keeps meditation light, fun and accessible to everyone.
Calm is a beautiful app that lets you play nature sounds during your meditation. Fancy the gentle sound of waves or the pitter-patter of rain falling on leaves?
3. The human touch
Go on, be adventurous. Put down the smartphone, step out of your house and go find a real live human being. An experienced teacher gives you the chance to ask questions and get feedback. There’s nothing quite like the old fashioned way.
With the growth of meditation in the West, there is no shortage of trained teachers. Just type “meditation classes [your city]” into google and have a browse.
Now, you have all the tools you need to start meditating today. No more excuses! Start a life changing habit right now!