Meditation is more than a growing trend, it has become a way of life for 18 million U.S. adults according to national reports.
Originating in the various regions of the East, archaeologists conclude that the birth of meditation occurred well over 5,000 years ago. The mind & body practice includes Mantra meditation, Mindfulness meditation, Spiritual meditation and combined practices (Tai Chi, Yoga and Qi Gong.)
Many consider it a tool to help combat stress, ease chronic pains/illnesses and improve physical health. Practitioners say they feel happier, more at peace and sleep better at night. Whether you're a little curious or completely ready to give it a try, here are 6 simple tips to help get you started.
1. Go easy on yourself
Recognize and acknowledge that this is just the beginning of your journey. Keep your expectations realistic and attainable. Start small and keep it simple. Know that with time and regular practice, you will grow stronger and your sessions will become more effective.
2. Find a comfortable spot
It’s essential to make sure you are completely comfortable during meditation whether seated or lying down. Keep in mind lying down will increase your risk of falling asleep, ultimately making your session counterproductive. Sometimes sitting while leaning back against a wall or large pillow is a great alternative to lying flat.
3. Set the scene
The ambiance of your space should be calm and tranquil. Utilize soft music, miniature indoor water fountains (auditory), incense or oils (olfactory/sense of smell) and candles (visual) to gently coax your senses into relaxation.
4. Remember to breathe
Keep your breaths full and steady. Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Ensure you are not breathing solely from your lungs but from your diaphragm…your abdomen should expand and contract with each breath.
5. Bring it back, Bring it back
A wandering mind is inevitable in the beginning stages of any meditative practice. Our minds were created to generate thoughts and that’s precisely what will happen. Don't worry, this doesn’t mean we can’t become more effective in eliminating the amount of “racing” that occurs within our heads. With experience, you’ll be able to have more control over your thoughts. Meanwhile, when you find your mind wandering, bring it back to your focus. Whether it be the flame of a candle in front of you or your breathing; simply guide your focus back to it. Eventually, the wandering will occur less and less and you’ll find it easier to maintain your focus.
6. Go at your own pace
Many think there is a magical amount of time one should spend during each meditation session. The truth is, meditation evolves as you evolve. You may want to start off by meditating for 5-10 minutes in the beginning.
Once you’ve mastered the art of sitting still, quieting the mind and maintaining your focus, perhaps then you could consider extending your sessions. My personal sessions often fluctuate, evening meditations tend to be longer than morning sessions: 5-10 minutes during the day and 45 minutes to an hour in the evening. There is no wrong or right amount of time but do understand the more time you dedicate to meditating, the more effective and beneficial your experience will be.