The benefits of building a consistent meditation practice into your regular routine are well documented. From reducing overall stress and anxiety to managing your mental health, as well as providing physical health benefits, meditation is becoming a much greater part of many people’s lives.
If you’re just starting to explore meditation, we’ve created a list of a few things to think about as you begin your own personal mindfulness movement!
You don’t need to launch into a full hour’s worth of silent sitting on your first go. Set aside a manageable amount of time (2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes) to begin with. This way, you won’t feel like you’re biting off more than you can chew, and you might be more inclined to stick with your practice!
Try not to get caught up in exactly how you should or could be meditating, just start doing it! As you learn more about meditation - its different forms and purposes - you can begin to refine your practice and the ‘how’ will often sort itself out. In the meantime though, set aside the time for meditation, close your eyes and just be!
While the how is not so important to begin with, it does pay to have a think about your ‘why’. Are you looking for a new way to manage specific stress or anxiety? Do you simply need some ‘me time’? Do you have a tendency for overthinking and want to develop techniques to clear your mind? If you know your purpose and the results you're hoping to achieve, it can help you to focus your practice and find the right kind of meditation for you.
Now that you’ve decided you want to explore meditation, really commit yourself to giving your practice a proper go. Set a couple of goals for yourself like exploring 3 different types of mediation over a three week period, or committing to practising for 3 minutes each day - you’ll be surprised at the immediate benefits you start to feel and how easy it is to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday!
Putting off any new thing can often mean that we wind up never doing the thing! Instead, remind yourself that it’s only 2 extra minutes out of your day, and by doing it first thing in the morning you'll A) start your day with a calmer mindset, and B) you will have achieved a new goal before you even walk out the door!
As you start out on this path, it’s a great idea to find time and space where you can fully disconnect and feel comfortable. That said, you can meditate just about anywhere and as you build your practice, you’ll find it easier and easier to meditate in all sorts of spaces! Take a minute on the train before work, pop into a meeting room in the office and take 5 minutes to yourself, or focus on your breathing and body-awareness as you walk.
By starting your practice for just a couple of minutes a day, you allow yourself scope for trying all sorts of different types of meditation - there’s one out there for you! Body scans, mindfulness meditation, breathing-focused meditation, practice that incorporates spiritual elements like Buddhism or Hinduism are just a few of the myriad types out there. Try a few on for size and read up on their specific benefits or intentions until you find the one for you!
While meditation can be a very inwardly focused practice, you don’t have to go it alone! There are plenty of resources online as well as growing communities who practice group and guided meditations. These can be especially helpful for beginners - you’ll have a voice guiding you through your practice, it can help to have others there to refocus you if your mind starts to wander, you’ll meet likeminded people and you’ll learn a lot!
Clearing the mind can be one of the lovely, calming things about meditation, but it’s equally as important to remain aware of thoughts, feelings and breathing. As you sit, focus on your breathing (without changing it), noticing the rhythm and the heat or cool of your breath. As thoughts enter your head (and they will), acknowledge them and then move on. Practice focusing on other elements in your environment as well - light, sound, temperature, or energy in the room.
As you get more comfortable, start to push yourself in your practice. Maybe that means adding a minute each day, or several minutes at the beginning of a new week. If you start with small periods of meditation, try adding one longer practice to your routine.