A beginner’s guide to meditation

You’ve heard people rave about meditating, you’ve read articles about CEOs and celebrities claiming to be meditation devotees, and you’ve made the decision to incorporate it into your daily routine….

You’ve heard people rave about meditating, you’ve read articles about CEOs and celebrities claiming to be meditation devotees, and you’ve made the decision to incorporate it into your daily routine. But where to begin?

First things first, it’s important to understand what meditation is. It’s not about making your mind blank or chanting a mantra — meditation is about awareness without distraction, whether that’s focusing on your breath, concentrating on a mantra or opening yourself up with different thoughts.

That’s it. Really. It might be hard to believe that something that sounds that simple can help regulate mood, lower blood pressure, bolster your immune system, and improve your sleep, but meditation isn’t that easy.

Think of all the things on your plate — work, boyfriends and girlfriends, cleaning your house, flatmates, friends, figuring out what show to watch on Netflix next. Now imagine trying to ignore all that and turn your brain off. Tricky, isn’t it?

Like most things in life, meditation requires patience and practice, but putting in the time and effort can have a positive impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Here are some of our top tips for meditation newbies so you can start clearing your mind and reaping the benefits.

Set an intention

Setting an intention before you meditate helps focus the individual practice and guide your greater relationship with meditation. Stay positive, and focus on an achievable goal — then, when you begin meditating, surrender it. While it’s important to have goals, acknowledging what you don’t have control over and the infinite ways your intention can manifest can help your attitude and outlook. It will also help remind you of what you want to accomplish.

For example, if you want to start meditating, then there’s no excuse to start today. Find somewhere comfortable: Create a quiet, distraction-free environment. Sit in a chair or on the floor in a cross-legged positions with the hands on the knees. You want to be focused on meditation, not pain in your back or extraneous sound. Just remember not to make it so comfortable you’re tempted to drift off to sleep.

Remember your spine

Your spine controls every nerve and aspect of your body, and Indian thought maintains that’s where the seven chakras (where energy flows in our bodies) are located. It’s only natural you want to be conscious of it.

Sit up straight by rolling your shoulders up and backward. Keep your head elevated above your heart. If you feel yourself slump or hunch, adjust accordingly.

Practice your breath

Wondering how exactly to meditate? Focus on the breath moving in and out, particularly in the area between your nostrils and upper lip, and bring your thoughts back to it whenever they start to get away from you. It doesn’t hurt that mindful breathing is one of the quickest ways to reduce anxiety and helps strengthen the mind-body connection.

Be patient

Seriously. Becoming ‘good’ at meditation doesn’t happen overnight, and if you find it frustrating, you’re not alone. Start with five minute intervals, and don’t criticise yourself if your thoughts wander or if you can’t stop thinking about an assignment at work — relax and return to your breath.

If you’re really not feeling it one day, listen to your body and don’t push yourself. Meditation shouldn’t feel like a chore, and after consistent practice, it will soon be something you can return to.

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Published: 10/07/17

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