5 Tips to Get you Started on a Daily Meditation Practice
- Plan ahead
A good time to meditate is right after you wake up, before your mind is busy with thoughts and activities of the day. If you normally feel sluggish in the morning, take a look at your nighttime routine. Ayurveda, the 5,000 year old healing system of India, suggests following nature’s rhythm, e.g. waking at sunrise and quieting down at sunset. Try getting a good 6-8 hours of sleep each night and avoid stimulating food, conversation and activities prior to sleep. Even though sitting in front of the TV or computer, may sound relaxing, the bright light produced by TV’s and computers can disrupt a good night’s sleep.
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier
If you use an alarm, choose a quiet setting for the ringer and place it further away from your nightstand. Let yourself slowly wake up rather than jarring your sympathetic nervous system, commonly referred to as the “fight or flight” response. Try to wake yourself up as you would a newborn baby.
- Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit
Choose a place in your home that you can dedicate as your “seat.” This can be on a cushion on the floor or if that’s uncomfortable, find a chair where you can sit upright and place both feet on the floor. Try to keep your spine erect so that your breath and energy can flow freely. It’s also healthier for your back.
- Start with breath awareness
Take a couple of minutes to bring your awareness to your breath. Inhale deeply and exhale completely, releasing any tension in your body. If you are meditating in the afternoon, try to let go of the events of the day and bring your attention to the present moment.
- Use a mantra
The word mantra means instrument or vehicle of the mind. A mantra is a tool to help quiet your mind first prior to experiencing moments of silence. You can receive a personal mantra from a meditation teacher or to help you get started, use a simple mantra of “1, 2.” As you inhale, silently repeat “1” and as you exhale, silently repeat “2.” Inhale “1,” exhale “2,” and keep repeating. When you notice that your awareness has drifted off to thoughts, gently bring it back to the repetition of “1, 2.” Be easy on yourself and try not to judge your meditation. Trust that the benefits of a daily meditation practice are present to you and those around you in your interaction with others.
The How's and Why's of Meditation
Silence befalls an ancient temple as rows of robed monks settle themselves, body, and mind. Eyes closed, legs pulled up into a lotus position, the eye of the mind turns inward. For hours they remain; their minds disciplined to ponder like this for long periods of time. This is not a feat for the average person.
Perhaps when people utter the word meditation, this image stirs in the imagination. Indeed, meditation has been a part of spiritual and religious practice for as long as mankind has been recording history. It does take years of steady practice to hold such a state of mind for hours at a time. However, meditation is something that is not only easily accessible to anyone, but you may already be doing it without realizing it.
Meditation simply means to think, contemplate or ponder. Throughout the world, it holds many different names, but the idea is the same: to enter a state of mind where it is easy to focus upon one thing. If you have ever found yourself daydreaming for any length of time, you are meditating. If you found yourself captivated by repetitive motion, the wheels and the sound of a passing train, for example, you were lulled into a meditative state. The same is true when you are reading a book and lose track of the time.
It is perfectly natural for your mind to slip into a trance and let the present moment go. When one intentionally practices meditation they engage in a discipline of training their mind and body. This practice can be applied to many different goals: relaxation, contacting spirits, building energy, enlightenment, self-contemplation, or empty mind, just to name a scant few.