My personal guide to HOW TO START MEDITATING by CityLux Senior Therapist Patricia.
Everywhere you can hear and read how great and beneficial it is. And you know what? It really is! I could write a whole article about its advantages and good influence but if you are reading an article about how to start meditating, I assume you already know the theory and now you want to start practicing. Maybe you are not sure how? Maybe, like me before, you don’t really know what ‘focus on breathing’ really means. Or maybe you don’t really know what to expect?
Well, after a lot of research and discussions with those who meditate regularly I found my way and now I am meditating on a regular basis too. I decided to share my knowledge. Maybe the things that worked for me would work for you too. BUT PLEASE REMEMBER – it is my personal guide. My methods don’t have to be correct. There must be hundreds of other ways to breathe or to relax your body, and they even may work better. Please treat the tips below just as introduction.
Don’t be scared as actually not so much preparation is needed.
Firstly you need to make meditation a part of your daily routine. You need 21 days to make or break the habit. So try to find 10-15 min during your day to meditate – ideally each day but 5 days a week is also good.
Maybe it will be best for you to meditate straight after you wake up. When you stomach is empty and mind is still sleepy and not troubled with stresses of everyday life. Maybe, on the other hand it will be better for you to find time just before you go to sleep? Or maybe the only good time would be on the train while you commute to work? (I assume you always get a seat). The point is – try to make it your routine. It is just easier if it is the same time and the same place….
It doesn’t really matter where you are sitting. You can read about special pillows to seat on, but you can be sitting on your own bed or sofa or even on a meadow in the park and you will be fine too. The sitting position is important though. Crossed legs, straight back, palms resting on your knees/thighs, closed eyes and your head slightly tilted as if you are looking down at something.
This position is quite comfortable to hold, helps you stay alert and it allows the energy to flow.
Try to stay still, ignore any urge to move or scratch – it will all go away quickly.
The last thing – you may want to use some background music and a timer to know exactly how long you are meditating.
Music is not necessary but it may be helpful to silence the noises like: dog barking in the garden, washing machine working in the flat upstairs, traffic noise outside the window. I’d recommend tranquil music, with not many effects and with no lyrics – nature sounds or ocean waves. Something like this:
You could use standard timer on your phone. But I recommend using an app like INSIGHT TIMER. Free version will let you set up desired time and it will let you know the time is up with a gentle quiet gong.
At the beginning set up just 5 minutes. Surprisingly sitting still and not thinking about anything is extremely difficult.
When you are comfortable with 5 minutes you can increase 1 minute every week or every few days.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
The purpose of meditation is to quiet your conscious mind. Only then you will be able to hear your subconscious, the inner you. It may give you the answers to questions that were bothering you recently. You may get brilliant ideas and inspirations. Or you may not notice anything visible happening (which of course doesn’t mean that invisible things are not happening or won’t happen).
I am sure you will find out pretty quickly that not thinking about anything is almost impossible. The thoughts will bombard you from every direction. You mind will wander the way you won’t even realise it is wandering. It is all normal. The most important thing – don’t get involved in the thinking process. Let the thoughts come and watch them as if you are watching a movie. They will come and they will go – without your involvement.
Don’t be too harsh with yourself and don’t force yourself. Especially at the beginning. It happened many times that I set my timer for 15 minutes and after 5-6 minutes I decided to stop as my mind was too active, I was too stressed and even though I tried different methods described below, I just couldn’t quiet my mind.
It is ok! You can stop and you can try again tomorrow
AND NOW… YOU ARE READY TO GO!
Below I wrote few methods that I have been using. Take couple of deep breaths and try one or even two of them at the time. You may try few methods within one session. Some may work better than the others.
· FOCUS ON BREATHING – simply think about the breathing process. How the air enters your body through nostrils, how your chest expands every time you take a deep breath in, how your lungs fill with the air and how the air leaves your body. Don’t think about anything else but your breathing. Whenever you notice your mind is somewhere else –just bring it gently back to the breathing.
· BREATHING METHOD 1 – take a normal breath in but take a very slow and long exhale through your mouth as if you wanted to get rid of every single air particle from your lungs.
Your body would relax with the breath out. And this is also when your mind is more likely to wander.
· BREATHING METHOD 2 – very similar to the method above. The difference is when you exhale try to do it with tighten throat. As if you would like to get rid of the air with your mouth but because your throat and lips are shut you release it through your nose. Doing this you should sound a little bit like Lord Vader from Star Wars.
· BREATHING METHOD 3 – place your thumb on your right nostril and inhale the air with your left nostril. At the peak close the left nostril with your ring finger and release the air through the right nostril. Repeat the pattern: take the air with right nostril and release through the left one.
· COUNT TIL 4 – count with each inhale and exhale: inhale-1, exhale-2, inhale-3, exhale-4, inhale-1 and so on. You can do variations of this. You can count till 4 on your inhales only, or exhales only. Every time you come back to number one, you bring your mind to where you are now
· MANTRAS – for me mantra is a word that you repeat over and over. I choose the word depending on what I want to achieve by meditation, for example: relax, harmony, happiness…. Let’s take a word ‘relax’ There are two ways you can do this. You take a breath in thinking ‘re’, and release the air thinking ‘lax’. Or you could take a breath in and say the word ‘relax’ when you exhale.
· CANDLE – is a visualizing game where you try to imagine there is a burning candle inside of you (around stomach area) and the flame illuminates from you in every direction. Stay focused on the flame. Actually you could also place a real burning candle at your eyes level and just look at it and focus on the flame.
That is all I know
I hope I gave you motivation and tools so now you can start meditating yourself. I also hope you will like it and make it a part of your daily routine and that you will start exploring other ways and methods.
Patricia- CityLux Senior Therapist
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