Meditation has had a surge in popularity over the last few years and continues to grow as increasing numbers of people grasp the incredible physical, mental and emotional health benefits of regularly quieting their minds. The great thing about meditation is that it’s such an accessible practice.
If you normally cringe at anything “new age” or perhaps you feel like you could never master regular meditation, think again. You don’t have to don an orange robe, be a hippy, live near a mountain or even own any kind of special equipment (although all those things are also fine!).
But really though, to practice meditation all you need is the willingness to show up regularly and find a sense of quiet calm in your mind. It’s not a difficult philosophical concept and it’s not about becoming a new “spiritual” person. Meditation is the experience of being in the moment. It’s a skill and like any new skill it can also be very easy to get frustrated and impatient.
We have something like 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day, so trying to find stillness inside all the chaos is not something that happens right away. It takes time. Meditation is also not – contrary to popular belief- about stopping thought. That image of the quiet, empty mind can be deceptive and make beginning meditators think that they just can’t get it right. The truth is, meditation is about present moment awareness. It’s about letting the natural resting awareness of the mind take over. You can observe those busy thoughts without getting sucked into them, essentially letting them come and go until they calm down as you learn to habitually bring your mind into a quieter state.
You are not alone if you feel like you can’t get it right! But you must remember that it is not about being perfect and meditation is a personal experience, one that you cannot really get wrong. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed with trying to sit each day and be still, or maybe you just can’t seem to get a hold of those busy thoughts and monkey mind, don’t give up!
Here are some quick tips for building a meditation practice:
- Integrate your practice into your schedule in a way that works for you.
- Start small; just ten minutes a day will bring enormous benefits.
- At first just focus on your breathing. When your mind wanders, bring it back.
- Start with mindfulness in daily activities like cleaning, cooking or eating. (Mindfulness is simply the practice of bringing your attention solely on the task in hand).
- Get outside in nature and practice mindfulness as you take a walk.
- Practice with a friend or check-in with each other to boost motivation.
- Combine your meditation with yoga for added relaxation at the end of a session.
Above all allow your practice to evolve naturally and enjoy it. Meditation is not a chore, it’s a life skill that will help you connect to yourself and live a happy, healthy daily existence.