7 Ways to Ease Into Meditation
Meditation is for everyone: monks in Tibet, yogis, corporate lawyers, gardeners, the rich, poor, young, and old. We may all approach life differently but in meditation, we are all doing the same thing: quieting the mind and looking within. In a society where information is so readily available, we often look to other sources for opinions and advice. It’s more important than ever to make meditation a priority. Our bodies and minds are our greatest compasses in life. They will always tell us if something we are doing is good for us or not; we just have to stop for a moment to look, feel, and listen from within.
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Here are 7 Ways to Ease Into a Meditation Practice:
1. Give yourself some “soft time” before meditation
Often, the moment you try to quiet the mind it will wander in a thousand different directions. “I forgot to do this today… the kids have a big test tomorrow…my husband forgot to take out the trash…there is a sale at the grocery store…I don’t have time to sit here doing nothing…” Give yourself a few minutes to let the mind do this and then ask it to quiet down. Truly ask it; it’s usually responsive.
2. Compose a to-do list
If after letting your mind wander and asking it to quiet down, you are still unable to reach a place of stillness, write those pesky things down, and acknowledge them. Sometimes that’s all thoughts need— acknowledgment.
3. Start a ritual
Meditation can be done anywhere at any time. It can be done in the middle of the subway during rush hour or in the middle of a meeting with your boss (I don’t recommend the latter). I’ve found, though, that training the mind to quiet down in a specific setting prepares it to settle down with less effort. Light candles have chamomile tea, take a bubble bath. Signal to your mind that it’s time to relax.
4. Learn to observe
We are not our thoughts. We have our thoughts. Try to detach yourself and simply watch them go by. View them in a cloud or a bubble and allow them to float away.
5. Focus on the breath
I know, you have heard this a million times. But it works! The best lesson I received in meditation is to focus on the pause between inhales and exhales. The four stages of breath give the mind something to focus on and connect us to our life force. You can focus on the breath and reduce your stress in just 15 minutes with Seize the Day! prior to even leaving the house. It’s lovely.
6. Do yoga
Yoga flows can become a moving meditation. Yin yoga can bring your mind and body into stillness. Kundalini can prepare the breath. Any type of yoga can open the mind and body to meditation. You can’t lose.
7. Think Positive Thoughts
Finally, if you’re having a crazy day and can’t get your mind to settle down, it’s OK. Think positive thoughts. There are days when meditation is easy, days when it takes a little longer to become still, and days when it just doesn’t want to happen. I used to become annoyed with myself if I couldn’t stop the endlessness of my thoughts, but that defeats the purpose. On those days, I ask my mind to come up with as many positive words as it can. Joy, peace, serenity, gratitude, etc. After even just a few minutes of doing this, I guarantee you will be in a calm, peaceful place.
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.