You may imagine meditation as sitting quietly for hours under a shady tree. It sounds lovely, but who really has time for that? The truth is the practice is much more accessible and easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Here’s how to ease some techniques into your life with meditation for beginners.
The wonderful thing about mediation is that it’s not an all-or-nothing practice. Even the smallest steps can go a long way to calming your mind and relieving stress and anxiety. Start with just a few short minutes a day. Try to pick a moment when you have some downtime, such as first thing in the morning before anyone else is up or when the kids go down for a nap in the afternoon. Find a place to sit that is comfortable and free of distraction, and assume a position that works for you. Ideally, you may be cross-legged on the floor, but if that’s uncomfortable for you, it can be counterproductive. Sit on a straight-backed chair if necessary to maintain your posture and comfort.
Now’s the time to let go of your expectations. Even if you only manage to get through a single minute before your to-do list creeps into your head, don’t be hard on yourself. Meditation is not an overnight change; it’s a lifelong process.
There are many approaches to practicing meditation, but the basic idea is to find a way to focus your mind in the present moment. One of the simplest meditation techniques to begin with is meditative breathing. You don’t have to alter your normal breathing or take deeper breaths; you simply need to be mindful of the act of breathing in and out. Focus on the sound and rhythm of your breath and become aware of how your body moves, contracting and expanding as you inhale and exhale. If you notice your mind drifting, bring your focus back to your breath.
A Focal Point
Another easy technique in meditation for beginners is using an object in front of you. Rather than closing your eyes, keep them open and trained on a particular item. It can be anything from a candle to a potted plant. The simpler the better so the meaning of the object itself doesn’t pose a distraction. Again, if you feel your mind start to wander, simply refocus on your object.
Mantras are another simple meditation method. A mantra can be as simple as a single syllable like the classic “om.” You can also come up with a word or short uplifting phrase that reminds you of why you are meditating. Repeat your mantra silently to yourself over and over.
Meditating Outside the Box
Beyond setting aside a few quiet minutes, there are several ways you can incorporate mindful meditation techniques throughout your day. As you take a walk, for example, take the time to simply enjoy your surroundings without allowing other thoughts to drift in. Instead of sneaking a peak at your email while your child plays, just sit back and watch his or her activity. Even meals offer an opportunity for meditation. As you take the first few bites of your lunch while on work break, take a moment to soak in the experience, focusing on the taste, texture, and smell of your meal.
One of the first techniques I learned is what I like to call “the stoplight.” When you’re driving in the car and you come to a stop at a red light, use those few seconds to forget about your destination. Keeping your eyes open, take a few cleansing breaths to relax of any physical tension, look around you, and simply be aware of the still moment.
Have you recently started meditating? Share your experience and the techniques that have worked for you.
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