Learning to meditate properly takes time and commitment and you won’t learn how to do it overnight. However, the benefits of meditation for just ten minutes each day are numerous, and you can start by trying to meditate for just two minutes, meaning that you should be able to easily fit meditation into your day.
Remember that you learning to meditate is a process, and you may find it frustrating and difficult at first, this does not mean that you should stop, this is just part of the process. Learning to accept your feelings and thoughts, such as those of frustration and difficulty, and become more detached from them, is one of the aims of meditation.
If you are new to meditation or are simply looking for some tips to meditate, consider the following:
You are more likely to incorporate meditation into your daily routine if you put aside some time to do it. Choose a time that is realistic for you, for example in the morning as soon as you wake up, in the evening before you go to bed, or at some other time where you have a free 10 minutes or so with as few distractions as possible.
Eventually, you should be able to meditate anywhere, even walking down the street or on a busy train or bus, but at the beginning, you should try to meditate in the same, comfortable space every time. Ideally, this space should allow you to sit upright without slouching. Some find it easier to sit cross-legged on the floor, while others prefer to have their legs straight out in front of them. Make sure you are sitting up straight whichever option you choose as this will help you to breathe fully.
Avoid all distractions. This might mean turning off your phone or other electronic devices, shutting the door or asking someone you live with not to bother you for 10 minutes. You may also want to close your eyes, although you don’t have to do this.
Focusing on your breathing is one of the most important aspects of meditation. You can start by breathing at your normal pace, and then try to take deeper breaths, where as you breathe in your belly expands. This is different from the more shallow breathing we usually do when you breathe into your chest.
Count your breaths. You can choose to count to three as you breathe in and three as you breathe out, for example. Increase or decrease this number so it is right for you. You could also try breathing in for three, holding your breath for three, breathing out for three, then holding your breath for three again. You could also try counting to ten, and breathe in on odd numbers and out on even numbers, for example. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various breathing techniques.
The key to focusing on your breathing is not to panic about doing it wrong or worry too much if you don’t breathe in for the ‘correct’ count. Just notice your breath and the way it makes you feel.
Do an internal scan of your body to check how each part of your body feels. You could start at the soles of your feet for example, and focus your attention on them and how they feel. You can then move up the body. Do not analyse or worry about how your body feels, try to simply observe and notice it.
As you are breathing and doing your full body check, it is likely that other thoughts will come into your head. Observe these thoughts, and recognise that they are simply thoughts, and then start counting again, or carry on with your body check. It is natural for the mind to wander, and this does not mean that you are meditating ‘wrong’.
It’s important when you start to meditate not to worry about whether you are doing it right or wrong. If you do find yourself worrying, accept this thought and focus again on your breathing or body check.
When you want to finish your meditation, try to stop doing so slowly. Don’t simply jump up and carry on with what you were doing before. Start returning your breathing to its normal pace, noticing the sensation of your feet or bottom on the floor and paying more attention to the sounds around you. You can then open your eyes if you had them closed and slowly get up and continue with your day.
As with any new routine or project, it is a good idea to get support from those around you on this new aspect of your life. This may mean telling your friends about your meditation, or seeking out people who meditate in order to talk to them about it. Building a network of people also interested in meditation, whether this is on- or offline, may encourage you to stick with your practice.
There is no set time for meditation, but it is advisable to start with periods of about two minutes and then increase this time slowly. Some people find a timer useful, others don’t. Find what works for you and then stick with it.
If you find you haven’t been sticking to your meditation routine, remember that you can start again at any point. Don’t beat yourself up about how you are meditating, how long you are meditating for or how other people meditate – although you might find it useful to ask them about their technique.